Effects of adjunctive exercise on physiological and psychological parameters in depression: A randomized pilot trial

Arno Kerling, Uwe Tegtbur, Elke Gützlaff, Momme Kück, Luise Borchert, Zeynep Ates, Anne Von Bohlen, Helge Frieling, Katja Hüper, Dagmar Hartung, Ulrich Schweiger, Kai G. Kahl*

*Corresponding author for this work
47 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with decreased physical activity and increased rates of the metabolic syndrome (MetS), a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disorders. Exercise training has been shown to improve cardiorespiratory fitness and metabolic syndrome factors. Therefore, our study aimed at examining whether patients receiving an exercise program as an adjunct to inpatient treatment will benefit in terms of physiological and psychological factors. Method Fourty-two inpatients with moderate to severe depression were included. Twenty-two patients were randomized to additional 3x weekly exercise training (EXERCISE) and compared to treatment as usual (TAU). Exercise capacity was assessed as peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak), ventilatory anaerobic threshold (VAT) and workload expressed as Watts (W). Metabolic syndrome was defined according to NCEP ATPIII panel criteria. Results After 6 weeks of treatment, cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2peak, VAT, Watt), waist circumference and HDL cholesterol were significantly improved in EXERCISE participants. Treatment response expressed as ≥50% MADRS reduction was more frequent in the EXERCISE group. Conclusions Adjunctive exercise training in depressed inpatients improves physical fitness, MetS factors, and psychological outcome. Given the association of depression with cardiometablic disorders, exercise training is recommended as an adjunct to standard antidepressant treatment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 15.05.2015

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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