Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)


Physician Assistant Studies

First Advisor

Russell Kauffman


cognitive behavioral therapy; depression; depression treatment; exercise; exercise therapy; exercise treatment for major depression; humans; major depression; major depressive disorder treatment; primary health care; serotonin uptake inhibitors



The purpose of this research and systematic literature review is to determine how exercise can be incorporated into the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) and its efficacy.


In this review, four databases were searched including SportDiscus, Pubmed, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and PsycInfo from October 1 to January 5, 2018. A variety of key terms were used when searching. Works chosen for review were published after the year 2000, were peer reviewed, and included randomized control trials (RCTs), pilot studies, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses. Sources that were excluded included those published prior to the year 2000, had poor study design, and included comorbid psychiatric conditions varying from MDD.


For this review, 17 resources were selected. Much of the research presented shows evidence for the use of exercise in the treatment of MDD. Although most of the research points to exercise as more of a beneficial augmentation strategy for MDD versus a first line therapy involving pharmacotherapy with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and psychotherapy in disease treatment.


Current research on the topic of exercise as therapy for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) does show promise; however, more research still needs to be done in order to place exercise as an equivalent treatment to pharmacotherapy or psychotherapy.