Two clinical trials have been conducted in a sample of depressed patients to determine whether the addition of an aerobic exercise programme to their usual treatment improved outcome after 12 weeks. In the first trial, an aerobic exercise group had a superior outcome compared with a control group in terms of trait anxiety and a standard psychiatric interview. A second trial was then conducted to compare an aerobic exercise programme with low intensity exercise.
Both groups showed improvement but there were no significant differences between the groups. In neither trial was there any correlation between the extent of change in the subjects’ physical fitness due to aerobic exercise and the extent of the improvement of psychiatric scores