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Resistance Exercise Reduced Depressive Symptoms

JAMA Psychiatry; ePub 2018 May 9; Gordon, et al

Resistance exercise training (RET) significantly reduced depressive symptoms among adults regardless of health status, total prescribed volume of RET, or significant improvements in strength, according to a recent meat-analysis and meta-regression analysis of randomized clinical trials. Investigators analyzed literature published before August 2017. 54 effects were derived from 33 randomized clinical trials involving 1,877 participants. They found:

  • Resistance exercise training was associated with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms with a moderate-sized mean effect ∆ of 0.66 (95% CI, 0.48-0.83; z = 7.35).
  • Significant heterogeneity was indicated (total Q = 216.92, df = 53; I2 = 76.0% [95% CI, 72.7%-79.0%]), and sampling error accounted for 32.9% of observed variance.
  • Total volume of prescribed RET, participant health status, and strength improvements were not significantly associated with the antidepressant effect of RET.
  • However, smaller reductions in depressive symptoms were derived from randomized clinical trials with blinded allocation and/or assessment.


Gordon BR, McDowell CP, Hallgren M, Meyer JD, Lyons M, Herring MP. Association of efficacy of resistance exercise training with depressive symptoms. Meta-analysis and meta-regression analysis of randomized clinical trials. [Published online ahead of print May 9, 2018]. JAMA Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.0572.