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Friday 28th October 2016

Exercise does not help depression

6th June 2012

According to the results of a study funded by the NHS, taking regular exercise does not help people who are depressed.


The study, which was done by researchers at the universities of Exeter and Bristol, looked at two groups of patients.

One group was given antidepressant medication or therapy, while the other group also received help to increase the amount of exercise they did.

The group were given advice on up to 13 occasions about how they could increase or improve the amount of exercise they did.

The patients were not made to take part in exercise, but were left to decide how much exercise they wanted to do. 

After 12 months, the team found the 361 patients had improved, but the people who did exercise did not show more improvement than the non-exercising group. 

The National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) currently advises people with depression to take part in three exercise sessions a week.

Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, professor of public health at King's College London said: "This is a huge disappointment because we were hoping exercise would help lift depression. But we need to bear in mind that these were patients already on medication, so it considers exercise on top of medical care. It did not look at mild depression nor did it consider exercise as an alternative to medication."

"The message mustn't be to stop exercising. A lot of people who have depression may have other problems too. And an active body helps to produce a healthy mind."


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