Table 1

Characteristics of trials assessing exercise for patients diagnosed with depression

Author, first
Country of origin
ParticipantsSeverity of depression at baselineN at baseline (included in trial efficacy analysis)Type of interventionFrequencyDuration
Klein et al 86 USAOutpatients
Mean age: 30 years (SD 7)
72% female
SCL-D: 2.4 (SD 1)50 (22)Aerobic exercise:
supervised individual running
Control group:
supervised meditation in groups
Two sessions per week
Control group:
one session per week
12 weeks
Martinsen et al 79
Norway
Inpatients
Mean age: 40 years (range 17–60)
Distribution of sex not reported
BDI: 28.0 (SD 9)49 (43)Aerobic exercise:
supervised group exercise.
Control group:
occupational therapy
Three sessions per week
Control group: three sessions per week
9 weeks
Epstein64
USA
Outpatients
Mean age: 39 years (range 24–60)
(NR) % female
BDI:
23.4 (SD 7)
21 (17)Aerobic exercise:
supervised group exercise.
Control group:
waitlist control
Three sessions per week8 weeks
Doyne et al 43
USA
Outpatients
Mean age: 29 years (SD 4)
100% female
HAM-D17: 13.0 (SD 7)52 (25)Aerobic exercise OR weightlifting:
supervised individual exercise.
Control group:
waiting list
Four sessions per week8 weeks
Veale et al 62
UK
Outpatients
Mean age: 35 years (range 19–58)
64% female
BDI: 24.5 (SD 6)83 (65)Aerobic exercise: Supervised group exercise.
Control group:
standard treatment from psychiatric services
Three sessions per week12 weeks
Singh et al 60 USAOutpatients
recruited from a register of volunteers
Mean age: 71 years (SD 1)
BDI: 19.9 (SD 2.3)32 (32) Progressive resistance training:
supervised group exercise
Control group:
attended seminars on health
Three sessions per week
Control group:
two sessions per week
10 weeks
Blumenthal et al 82
USA
Outpatients
Mean age: 57 years (SD 7)
71.8% female
HAM-D17:
Not reported
103 (103)Aerobic exercise:
supervised exercise plus antidepressant medication (sertraline).
Control group:
antidepressant medication (sertraline)
Three sessions per week16 weeks
Mather et al 52
UK
Outpatients
Treatment resistant
Mean age: 65 years (range 53–91)
69% female
HAM-D17: 17.1 (SD 6)86 (85)Mixed aerobic and non-aerobic exercise: supervised group exercise.
Control group:
attended health seminars
Two sessions per week
Control group: two seminars per week
10 weeks
Dunn et al 45
USA
Outpatients
Mean age: 36 years (SD 6)
75% female
HAM-D17: 19.4 (SD 2)80 (80)Aerobic exercise:
individually supervised exercise with (1) low energy expenditure (EE) OR (2) high EE OR (3) low EE OR (4) high EE
Control group:
flexibility exercise
Group (1) and (2): three sessions per week
Group (3) and (4): five sessions per week
Control group: three sessions per week
12 weeks
Singh et al 58
Australia
Outpatients
Mean age: 69 (SD 6)
55% female
HAM-D17: 18.9 (SD 4.2)60 (54) Progressive resistance training (PRT):
(1) Low-intensity PRT OR (2) high-intensity PRT.
Control group:
standard GP care
Group (1) and (2): three sessions per week8 weeks
Pilu et al 55
Italy
Outpatients
Treatment resistant
Age between 40 and 60 years
100% female
HAM-D17:
19.7 (SD 6)
30 (30) Resistance exercise:
supervised group sessions
Control group:
standard treatment
Two sessions per week32 weeks
Viera et al 63 BrazilOutpatients
Mean age 43.66 years (SD NR)
100% female
HAM-D21:
31.9 (SD 3)
18 (18) Aerobic exercise:
supervised water aerobics
Control group: standard GP care
Two sessions per week12 weeks
Blumenthal and Babyak39
USA
Outpatients
Mean age: 52 years (SD 8)
75.8% female
HAM-D17: 16.7 (SD 4)153 (153) Aerobic exercise:
(1) supervised group exercise OR (2) home-based exercise Control group: placebo medication
(1) and (2): Three sessions per week16 weeks
Krogh  et al 21
Denmark
Outpatients
Mean age: 39 years (SD 9)
74% female
HAM-D17: 17.8 (SD 4)165 (165) Exercise:
(1) aerobic supervised group exercise OR (2) supervised group resistance training
Control group: relaxation and stretching exercise
(1)and (2): Two sessions per week
Control group:
two sessions per week
16 weeks
Mota-Pereira et al 53
Portugal
Outpatients
Treatment resistant
Mean age: 47.5 years (SD 3)
65.5% female
HAM-D17:
17.1 (SD 3)
33 (29) Aerobic exercise:
home-based exercise+supervised
Control group:
attention control
Four home-based sessions/week One supervised session/week
Control group: one supervised session/week
12 weeks
Krogh et al 22
Denmark
Outpatients
Mean age: 42 years (SD 11)
67% female
HAM-D17: 18.9 (SD 4)115 (115) Aerobic exercise:
supervised group exercise
Control group:
supervised stretching exercise in groups
Three sessions per week
Control group:
Three sessions per week
12 weeks
Chalder et al 40
UK
Outpatients
Mean age: 40 years (SD 13)
66% female
BDI: 32.1 (SD 9)361 (361) Exercise: participants received individually tailored support and encouragement to engage in physical activity.
Control group:
standard GP care
Individual16 weeks
Fang et al 73
China
Inpatients
Mean age: 44 years (SD 14)
66.9% female
HAM-D24:
29.2 (SD 5)
90 (90) Aerobic exercise:
groups 1 and 2 had supervised group exercise, high intensity
Control group:
15 min stretching
Groups 1 and 2 had 3 and 5 sessions per week, respectively
Control group: three sessions per week
6 weeks
Huipeng and Xiaohui70
China
Inpatients
Mean age: 30 years (SD 5)
100% female
HAM-D17:
28 (SD 5)
68 (68) Aerobic exercise:
jogging
Control group:
standard treatment
Five sessions per week6 weeks
Ho et al 47 2014
Hong Kong
Inpatients
Mean age: 46 years (SD 12)
67.3% female
MADRS:
19 (10)
52 (52) Aerobic exercise:
supervised exercise
Control group:
10 min stretching
Five sessions per week3 weeks
Danielsson et al 65
Sweden
Outpatients
Mean age: 45 years (SD 13)
76% female
MADRS: 24.0 (SD 5)42 (42) Mixed aerobic and non-aerobic exercise:
first 2 weeks individual supervised exercise then supervised group exercise
Control group: one session with advice on physical activity
Two sessions per week10 weeks
Pfaff et al 54
Australia
Outpatients
Mean age: 61 years (SD 8)
63% female
MADRS: 21.3 (SD NR)200 (200) Resistance exercise: supervised home-based exercise
Control group:
standard GP care
Three sessions per week12 weeks
Guifeng 72
China
Inpatients
Mean age: 33 years (SD 14)
70% female
HAM-D24:
25.9 (SD 4)
70 (70) Aerobic exercise:
supervised group exercise
Control group:
standard treatment
Five sessions per week8 weeks
Junchin et al 71
China
Inpatients
Mean age: 28 years (SD 7)
61% female
HAM-D24:
25.8 (SD 3)
70 (70) Aerobic exercise:
supervised aerobic exercise of the patients’ own choice
Control group:
standard treatment
Five sessions per week8 weeks
Schuch et al 84
Brazil
Inpatients
Mean age: 40 years (SD 11)
74% female
HAM-D17: 26.7 (SD 2)50 (50) Aerobic exercise:
supervised individual exercise.
Control group:
standard treatment
Three sessions per week2 weeks
Kerling et al 49
Germany
Inpatients
Mean age: 43 years (SD 10)
MADRS:
24.0 (SD 9)
42 (42) Aerobic exercise:
supervised exercise
Control group:
standard treatment
Three sessions per week6 weeks
Belvederi et al 83
Italy
Outpatients
Mean age: 75 years (SD 6)
71% female
HAM-D17:
20.1 (SD 3)
121 (121) Aerobic exercise:
(1) sertraline+supervised non-progressive exercise OR (2) sertraline+supervised progressive aerobic exercise
Control group:
sertraline
Three sessions per week24 weeks
Carneiro et al 66
Portugal
Outpatients
Mean age: 50.16 years (SD 12)
100% female
BDI:
48.8 (SD 10)
26 (19) Aerobic exercise:
supervised exercise
Control group:
standard treatment
Three sessions per week16 weeks
Doose et al 68
Germany
Outpatients
Mean age: 47.9 years (SD 11)
63% female
HAM-D17: 14.2 (SD 3)46 (46) Aerobic exercise:
supervised aerobic exercise
Control group:
standard treatment
Three sessions per week8 weeks
Pentecost et al 77
UK
Outpatients
Mean age: 44.4 years (SD 14)
48% female
PHQ-9: 16.5 (SD 4)60 (44) Exercise:
behavioural activation plus physical activity promotion
Control group:
behavioural activation
Individual12 weeks
Salehi et al 69
Iran
Inpatients
Mean age: 30.0 years (SD 6)
35% female
HAM-D21: 43.4 (SD 8)40 (40) Aerobic exercise+ECT:
supervised aerobic exercise
Control group: ECT
Three sessions per weeks
Control group
3 ECTs per week
4 weeks
Legrand et al 67
France
Inpatients
Mean age: 46.9 years (SD 13)
67% female
BDI: 36.0 (SD 6)24 (24) Aerobic exercise:
supervised aerobic exercise
Control group:
standard treatment
10 sessions in 10 consecutive days10 days
Euteneuer et al 75
Germany
Outpatients
Mean age: 37.1 years (SD 12)
52% female
BDI: 27.2 (SD 9)71 (68) Exercise:
CBT+PA promotion
Control group:
CBT+low energy activities
Individual16 weeks
Olson et al 74
Ireland
Outpatients
Mean age: 21.1 years (SD 2)
80% female
BDI: 24.2 (SD 12)50 (30) Aerobic exercise:
supervised aerobic exercise
Control group:
stretching exercise
Three sessions per week
Three sessions per week
8 weeks
Patten et al 76
USA
Outpatients
Mean age: 37.5 years (SD 11)
100% female
PHQ-9: 11.7 (SD 5)30 (26) Aerobic exercise:
supervised aerobic exercise
Control group:
health education
Three sessions per week12 weeks
  • BDI, Beck’s Depression Inventory; CBT, cognitive behavioural therapy; ECT, electroconvulsive therapy; EE, energy expenditure; GP, general practitioner; HAM-D17: Hamilton Depression Scale, 17 items; MADRS, Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale; NR, not reported; PA, physical activity; PHQ-9: Patient Health Questionnaire; PRT, progressive resistance training; SCL-D, Symptom Check List, depression subscale.