According to a recent study, exercise reduces depressive symptoms in patients with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions. Findings were published in the current issue of the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy.
Arthritis is a major public health problem among adults in the United States (US), with estimates showing that arthritis affects 55.2 million adults. A common mental health problem among adults with arthritis is depression, and there have been a few randomized controlled trials examining the effects of exercise in adults with AORCs. However, these studies have shown results with discrepancies.
In the review entitled “Effects of exercise on depression in adults with arthritis: a systematic review with meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials,” George Kelley from the Department of Biostatistics, West Virginia University and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis in order to understand the discrepancies found in recent randomized controlled trials regarding the outcomes of physical exercise on depressive symptoms in adults with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions (AORC).
The studies included in the review were all randomized controlled trials conducted between 1981 and 2014 that tested the effect of an intervention program involving aerobic exercise, strength training exercise, or both for at least 4 weeks in adults with AORCs. Furthermore, the researchers included in the criteria that all studies should have a control group, and all participants in the intervention programs had to have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia or systemic lupus erythematosus. The researchers also searched for studies were there was an assessment of depressive symptoms.
The search retrieved 500 citations involving a total of 2,449 eligible participants (1,470 exercise, 979 control). In total, 29 studies were analyzed. Data analysis revealed that exercise was responsible for a reduction in depressive symptoms by 16.4%. However, the researchers noted that the studies included a high risk of randomization biases, with the authors indicating the need for well-designed and reported studies on the effects of physical exercise for adults with AORCs.
Nevertheless, the results from this review are encouraging and have important clinical implications. A regular exercise regimen is statistically significant with a decrease in depressive symptoms in adults with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions.