Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

The Role of Exercise in Preventing and Treating Depression

Schuch, Felipe Barreto PhD1; Stubbs, Brendon PhD2,3

Current Sports Medicine Reports: August 2019 - Volume 18 - Issue 8 - p 299–304
doi: 10.1249/JSR.0000000000000620
Exercise is Medicine

Depression is a leading cause of global burden. The mainstay of treatment is pharmacological and psychological interventions. While effective, not all people will respond to those treatments and alternative approaches for preventing and treating depression are required. Recent literature has demonstrated that higher physical activity (PA) levels and exercise confer protective effects on incident depression. Also, exercise has demonstrated efficacy on reducing symptoms for people with depression. Despite its effectiveness, similar to other treatments, some people may benefit more from exercise and identifying these potential predictors of response is necessary to deal with patients’ and professionals’ expectations. Dropout from exercise interventions is comparable to dropout from other treatments for depression and similar to dropout from exercise in other clinical populations. However, some strategies to increase adherence are important. In the present article, we provide an updated overview of the use of PA and exercise for the prevention and treatment of depression.

1Department of Sports Methods and Techniques, Federal University of Santa Maria, Santa Maria, BRAZIL

2Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, De Crespigny Park, London, UNITED KINGDOM

3South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Denmark Hill, London, UNITED KINGDOM

Address for correspondence: Felipe Barreto Schuch, PhD, Federal University of Santa Maria, Av. Roraima, 1000 - CEFD, Cidade Universitária, Santa Maria - RS, 97105-900, Brazil; E-mail:

Copyright © 2019 by the American College of Sports Medicine.