Exercise may benefit people suffering from depression, according to a review of the available evidence by researchers.
They said the latest evidence suggested that exercise reduced symptoms of depression, but they cautioned that more high quality trials were needed.
The Cochrane review was carried out by researchers from the University of Edinburgh. They looked at 39 trials involving 2,326 people diagnosed with depression.
In 35 trials comparing exercise with control treatments or no treatment, the researchers saw moderate benefits of exercise for treating depression.
However, they noted that more trials were needed, as they could not tell which kinds of exercise regimes were most effective or whether the benefits continued after a patient stopped their programme.
“Our review suggested that exercise might have a moderate effect on depression,” said review author Gillian Mead, from the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences at Edinburgh University.
But she added: “The evidence base would be strengthened by further large-scale, high quality studies.”
The latest review is an update of a previous Cochrane review on the topic, which found only limited evidence of benefit for exercise in depression.
However, since the original review, more trials have now been completed – prompting researchers to carry out the update.