Date of Award


Document Type

Independent Study

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (20 I 0) , I in IO American adults suffer from depression. The effects of depression can lead to a decrease in quality of life, poor health behaviors , and potentially self harm. Cun-ently, the treatment for depressive symptoms relies heavily on medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI's). Though effective, these treatments take time to become effective, have potential adverse side effects, and often end in poor adherence. With this in mind, the present review paper explored research into the benefits of exercise for the reduction of depressive symptoms with the goal of making evidence based treatment recommendations. This review concluded that regular physical activity can increase quality of life, improve health outcomes, and decrease depressive symptoms. Furthe,more, exercise was noted to be as beneficial as antidepressant medication or cognitive behavioral therapy, making it a suitable stand alone or adjunct treatment option for mild to moderate depressive symptoms. Physical activity was noted to improve depressive symptoms within the first few weeks, and was reported as early as the first session. Across studies, the average amount of time found to produce a decrease in depressive symptoms was 90 minutes of moderate exercise each week. There was no additional benefit noted for >200 minutes of weekly exercise, and some research indicated that exercising more than 200 minutes per week could do the inverse and lead to a return in depressive symptoms. The amount of exercise shown to reduce depressive symptoms is in line with cun-ent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, suggesting that moderate levels of weekly exercise may be effective for not only maintaining health but also to reduce symptoms of depression, and could be used as a treatment option to control depressive symptoms