A recent study has shown that aerobic exercise has powerful antidepressant effects on patients with clinical depression. The study was published on the 18th of October 2018 in the journal ‘Depression and Anxiety.

Aerobic exercise is often referred to as cardio and typical methods involve walking, running, swimming and dancing. A rule of thumb is that when we start sweating, the aerobic exercise will be working to make us feel happier.

A common question we receive is how much exercise do I need to do to feel better and how intense does it need to be?

The most recent review of multiple studies on aerobic exercise as an antidepressant involving 455 patients were treated with monitored aerobic exercise for around 45 minutes at a moderate intensity three times per week for just over nine weeks.

Those reviewing the multiple studies concluded that aerobic exercise not only works for those with clinical depression but also those at low risk on depression.

The outcome of the review was that there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that aerobic exercise has a large antidepressant effect comparable to specified medication and therapy. The lead author of the review, Ioannis Morres had this to say, “This study has found that supervised aerobic exercise can significantly support major depression treatment in mental health services.”

It has been assumed based on the study that for a typical adult patient with major depressive order that the best dosage of aerobic exercise for antidepressant effects is 45-minute sessions three times a week at moderate intensity.

Depression is different in every patient and as such aerobic exercise may not be an effective treatment in all cases. If you or someone you know has depression the best thing to do is see a mental health professional who can accurately diagnose and arrange the most suitable treatment for your specific case. If you would like to see a mental health professional, you can contact us here and we will do our best to help you.


Ioannis D. Morres, Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, Afroditi Stathi, Nikos Comoutos, Chantal Arpin‐Cribbie, Charalampos Krommidas, Yannis Theodorakis. “Aerobic Exercise for Adult Patients with Major Depressive Disorder in Mental Health Services: A Systematic Review and Meta‐Analysis.” Depression and Anxiety (First published: October 18, 2018) DOI: 10.1002/da.22842