M Donaghy, AH Taylor



For many years, experts have been debating the pros and cons of exercise for depression. Proponents of exercise for depression point to those clinical trials which have shown that exercise improves mood, while sceptics point out the methodological problems in many of the apparently positive trials, and the uncertainties around the acceptability of exercise as a treatment for depression. Here two experts critically review the evidence around exercise for depression, provide arguments for and against the promotion of physical activity as a treatment for depression, explore issues around the generalisability of exercise as a treatment for depression and look to the future by discussing ongoing trials that will provide more evidence to inform this important debate.

Keywords Depression, exercise, physical activity, stepped care

Declaration of Interests  Professor Taylor has been involved with the Trial of Exercise and Depression (TREAD), which receives funding from HTA (NIHR).