A recent study entitled “Effects of exercise on depression in adults with arthritis: a systematic review with meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials” suggests that exercise activity can improve depression symptoms in adults with arthritis. The study was published in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy.
In this study, the authors aimed to clarify previous discrepancies reported by different studies on the role of exercise activity in improving depressive symptoms in adults afflicted with rheumatoid diseases, such as arthritis. Reported as a major health concern in the United States, currently 55.2 million adults are diagnosed with arthritis, with estimates reaching 67 million in fifteen years. One of the most common health issues associated with arthritis in adulthood is depression and exercise was advanced as a non-pharmacologic efficient way to combat depressive symptoms in adults with arthritis. However, the effects of exercise in depression outcomes in these patients remain controversial.
Here, a team of researchers performed a systematic review with meta-analysis to determine the effects of exercise in patients with rheumatic conditions, including arthritis but also osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematous.
The authors identified prospective studies among 10 different electronic databases, such as Medline or Scopus, among others while performing cross-referencing, hand searching and expert review. The studies criteria for inclusion in their meta-analysis were randomized controlled trials, exercise performed at least during 4 weeks, presence of control group and adults with the rheumatic conditions and depression symptoms determined.
The team performed their analysis with a total of 2,449 participants – 1,470 with exercise capacity and 979 controls – included from 29 different studies. The authors determined an average of exercise duration of 19 weeks, with a frequency of approximately 4 sessions per week with duration of 34 minutes per session.
The main finding was that exercise indeed was associated with a reduction of depressive symptoms in adults with any of the rheumatic diseases aforementioned. Furthermore, other disease relevant outcomes, including physical function, pain, quality-of-life, anxiety, etc, were also significantly improved by exercise. Thus, although the authors acknowledge study limitations, their findings suggest that exercise can be of important value when added to current therapeutics for adults with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions.