Science-- there's something for everyone

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Exercise and depression?

Does exercise help to alleviate depression? That's a great question that unfortunately was not answered by a recent article in the British Medical Journal. Nineteen researchers from the universities of Bristol, Kent and Exeter compared people who were prodded to exercise with those who weren't, and found no differences. 

Three hundred and sixty one study participants were recruited from adults who had come to their doctors with symptoms of depression. Half were given the standard care (including anti-depressants if necessary) and half were also provided with a facilitator who helped them find a physical activity and exercise routine that suited them. People in the second group met with their facilitators in person up to three times and by phone ten times over an eight month period. 

All patients completed self-evaluations at four, eight and twelve months after the start of the study. As stated, there were no differences in depression levels between the two groups. There were also next to no differences in activity level between the groups too. Does anyone see a problem with this?

Although the article is putatively about depression, the only thing it seems to have measured is whether depressed people will exercise more if they're nagged. Answer: not much. 

Scicurious has more on this.