A major NHS study into whether exercise can improve depression has
serious methodological flaws, according to Dr David Ashton, Medical Director of Healthier Weight. The
“Treating Depression with Physical Activity” study failed to show any
meaningful improvements after eight months of intensive support for 362
patients with depression in general practice.
problem with this study” according to Dr Ashton “is that it relied on
self-reported activity levels which are notoriously unreliable as a measure of
exercise intensity and compliance, both of which are crucial to achieving a
sustained beneficial impact on mood”.
review of more than 90 research studies not only found that regular exercise
significantly reduced depressive symptoms, but also that the worse the
depression the more beneficial exercise appeared to be1. However,
it is essential that patients met the required physical activity levels.
the NHS study failed to show any benefit, we must be careful about drawing the
wrong conclusions” says Ashton. “The
scientific evidence from well conducted studies shows a clear association
between increased activity patterns and improvement in depressive illness. It would be very unfortunate if evidence from
a poorly constructed study was used to inform public health policy decisions
and the day-to-day advice given to patients”.
MP, Puetz TW,
RK. Effect of exercise
training on depressive symptoms among
patients with a chronic illness: a systematic review and meta-analysis of
randomized controlled trials. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(2):101-11.
Obesity treatment news : 20 March 2012