Is Exercise Always Good for Battling Depression?

Contradicting conventional wisdom, a British study of elderly nursing home residents showed that moderate exercise does NOT lessen depressive symptoms.

The study published in The Lancet by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment tracked nearly 1,000 patients in two nursing homes. Nearly half of the residents battled depression and were willing to be analyzed for the purpose of this study.

Over the course of the study, the patients w depression got slightly worse. The study began in Dec 2008 and ended in April 2010.

The lead researcher on the team that conducted the study said about the results:

“I would stress that these results only apply to care home residents and only to depression; there is no doubt that exercise improves fitness and physical health in younger people and in fitter elderly people.”

This study could call into question other hypothesis related to depression including socialization, nutrition and medication.

Exercise is sure to continue as an important part of nursing home life. The benefits of exercise are numerous and activity directors (who often run exercise classes) are generally not cost-prohibitive, certainly not compared to physical therapists. 


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