Recent NHS funded research has suggested that exercise provides no additional help when treating people who are suffering from depression.
Previous research had suggested that exercise could help to treat people with mild depression. This led to the National Institutes for Health and Clinical Excellence issuing guidelines in 2004 that advised suffers to take three exercise sessions a week.
However, a new study from the University of Bristol and the University of Exeter has contradicted earlier research.
The study involved 361 patients who suffered from depression. All were taking conventional treatments for the condition but only a randomly allocated group were given advice on how to increase their level of activity.
After following the patients for a year, the researchers found that those in the more active group of people showed no additional reduction in their symptoms than those in the less active group.
A spokesperson for the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry said: “Many patients suffering from depression would prefer not to have to take traditional anti-depressant medication, preferring instead to consider alternative non-drug based forms of therapy. Exercise and activity appeared to offer promise as one such treatment, but this carefully designed research study has shown that exercise does not appear to be effective in treating depression.”
Experts were keen to point out that physical activity is still good for you and indicated that many GPs deal with patients who suffer from a number of conditions which can be helped by taking exercise.