Br J Sports Med 41:29-33 doi:10.1136/bjsm.2006.030130
  • Original article

A randomised, controlled study on the effects of a short-term endurance training programme in patients with major depression

  1. K Knubben1,
  2. F M Reischies2,
  3. M Adli3,
  4. P Schlattmann4,
  5. M Bauer3,
  6. F Dimeo1
  1. 1Section of Sports Medicine, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  2. 2Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  3. 3Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Campus Mitte, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  4. 4Department of Biometry and Medical Statistics, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr F C Dimeo
 Charité Campus Benjamin Franklin, Station 6, Hindenburgdamm 30, Berlin, Germany;fernando.dimeo{at}
  • Accepted 9 October 2006
  • Published Online First 24 October 2006


Objective: To evaluate the short-term effects of exercise in patients with major depression.

Design: Prospective, randomised, controlled study.

Setting: A university hospital.

Patients: A consecutive series of 38 inpatients with a major depression episode undergoing standard clinical antidepressant drug treatment.

Interventions: Patients were randomly assigned to an exercise (walking, n = 20) or placebo (low-intensity stretching and relaxation exercises, n = 18) group. Training was carried out for 10 days.

Main outcome measurements: Severity of depression assessed with the Bech-Rafaelsen Melancholy Scale (BRMS) and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale (CES-D).

Results: After 10 days, reduction of depression scores in the exercise group was significantly larger than in the placebo group (BRMS: 36% v 18%; CES-D: 41% v 21%; p for both  = 0.01); the proportion of patients with a clinical response (reduction in the BRMS scores by more than six points) was also larger for the exercise group (65% v 22%, p<0.01).

Conclusions: Endurance exercise may help to achieve substantial improvement in the mood of selected patients with major depression in a short time.


  • Competing interests: None.

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