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Exercise Proven to Help Improve Mental Health Outcomes – Findings from Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Exercise is known to be a beneficial adjunctive treatment for depression. In a new systematic review and meta-analysis, researchers found that physical activity interventions can significantly reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in all clinical populations, with some groups showing even greater signs of improvement. The findings, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, suggest that exercise should be considered a more prominent therapeutic option in medical and psychiatric guidelines.

The study reviewed more than 1,000 research trials, with a focus on mental health disorders and those with various chronic conditions.[0] The researchers discovered that physical activity had positive effects across all three mental conditions, with the greatest benefits seen in those with depression. Greater benefits were also found among pregnant and postpartum women, individuals with HIV or kidney disease, and those who were physically healthy apart from their mental distress.[1]

The results showed that the higher the intensity of exercise, the more beneficial it is.[2] Walking at a brisk pace was found to be more effective than walking at a usual pace.[3] Exercise for six to twelve weeks is also associated with the best mental health improvements.[2] However, the effectiveness of exercise reduced with longer duration interventions.[0]

The findings also suggest that socioeconomic status may influence the association between physical activity and health outcomes.[4]

It is important to note that exercise should not replace professional help and counseling, but it can be an effective tool to be included in a comprehensive treatment plan. The study highlights the importance of exercise in managing mental health conditions, and it can provide a powerful way to increase the efficacy of traditional treatments. People should work with a health professional to develop an appropriate exercise regime for their individual needs.

0. “Exercise More Effective For Depression Than Counseling: Study” Medical Daily, 13 Mar. 2023,

1. “Physical activity should be considered as front-line treatment for depression: scientific review” KTVZ, 12 Mar. 2023,

2. “Does a healthy body really make a healthy mind?” BBC, 12 Mar. 2023,

3. “Exercise Is Even More Effective Than Counselling or Medication for Depression” Neuroscience News, 12 Mar. 2023,

4. “Exercise improves symptoms in adults with depression” 2 Minute Medicine, 13 Mar. 2023,

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