Exercise proves to be ineffective against care home depression

Researchers at the University of Warwick and Queen Mary, University of London have shown that exercise is not effective in reducing burden of depression among elderly care home residents.

Exercise is a low risk intervention that can improve mental health but the findings of a National Institute for Health Technology Assessment Programme study, published in The Lancet, conclude that there is a requirement for alternative approaches to reduce the burden of depression in frail, very elderly, residents.

The large sought to discover whether an intervention that combined a twice-weekly, moderately intensive exercise sessions over the course of a year and promotion of physical activity by care home staff would reduce depression. Over 1,000 residents were recruited from 78 UK care homes. Nearly half of the frail elderly care recruited to the study were suffering from depression. The intervention was well received in the homes, and popular with residents but it had no effect on depression, or residents' general quality of life.

Martin Underwood, Professor of Primary Care Research at Warwick Medical School, who led the research team, said,

"We are disappointed that this exercise intervention had no effect on the serious problem of depression with the care home residents. We already know that antidepressants are effective for more severely depressed patients, while preventive strategies such as increased and psychological stimulation are promising but as yet unproven. New approaches are clearly needed to address the major burden of depression in this most needy population. I would stress that these results only apply to care home residents and only to depression; there is no doubt that exercise improves fitness and in younger people and in fitter elderly people."

With the number of people needing predicted to continue rising year on year, it is ever more important that residents have access to effective interventions to improve their mental health.

Stephanie Taylor, Professor in Public Health and Primary Care at Queen Mary, added, "While the intervention was unfortunately not effective in reducing the presence of depressive symptoms in this population, with nearly half of the residents in our study showing depressive symptoms we are hopeful that this will spur further research around understanding and improving the lives of older people in care homes."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Predicting mortality amongst older care home residents

Jan 11, 2013

The number of medications prescribed to a care home resident and the frequency of their contact with their GP are strong predictors of mortality in care homes shows research published today in Age & Ageing, the sc ...

Recommended for you

Independent safety investigation needed in the NHS

1 hour ago

The NHS should follow the lead of aviation and other safety-critical industries and establish an independent safety investigation agency, according to a paper published today by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. The au ...

Sexual fantasies: Are you normal?

5 hours ago

Hoping for sex with two women is common but fantasizing about golden showers is not. That's just one of the findings from a research project that scientifically defines sexual deviation for the first time ever. It was undertaken ...

AMA 'Code of Ethics' offers guidance for physicians

11 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Ethics and other articles provide guidance for physicians in relation to public health emergencies, according to a report from the AMA.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.