Resistance Exercise Training Significantly Curtails Depressive Symptoms

Peter M. Yellowlees, MBBS, MD


January 29, 2019

This is the Medscape Psychiatry Minute. I'm Dr Peter Yellowlees.

The physical benefits of resistance exercise training (RET) are well documented, but less is known regarding the association of RET with mental health outcomes, and to date, no quantitative examination of the antidepressant effects of RET has been performed. Now a team of investigators[1] from the University of Limerick, Ireland, have reviewed 33 randomized clinical trials involving 1877 participants, to estimate the association of RET with depressive symptoms.

The researchers found that RET significantly reduced depressive symptoms among adults regardless of health status, total prescribed volume of RET, or significant improvements in muscle strength. They noted that sampling error accounted for 33% of the observed variance of the results and recommended that better-quality randomized clinical trials be conducted.

This is an interesting study for all of us who are strong believers in the importance of behavioral activation for our patients with depression, and who regularly encourage physical exercise and improved physical fitness as part of a multimodal treatment program. It seems clear that we should continue to encourage patients along these paths, and that by doing so we are not just improving their confidence, physical health, and self-esteem through improved fitness but are also actively reducing their depressive symptoms. As physicians and as part of our own self-care plan, we should also take the advice we give our patients and join them at the gym.

Thank you for listening to this Medscape Psychiatry Minute. Do continue to enjoy your practice.


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