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Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia

Print version ISSN 1415-790XOn-line version ISSN 1980-5497


GUMARAES, Joanna Miguez Nery  and  CALDAS, Célia Pereira. The influence of exercise on depressive disorders of the elderly: a systematic review. Rev. bras. epidemiol. [online]. 2006, vol.9, n.4, pp.481-492. ISSN 1415-790X.

INTRODUCTION: Depressive disorders have a high prevalence among the elderly and are associated with a negative impact on their health status and quality of life. There are investigations in the literature on the relationship between exercising and prevention of depression, but results have been inconclusive. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate studies that analyzed the role of exercise on the prevention of different levels of depressive disorders (major depression, minor depression and dysthymia) in the elderly. METHODS: A systematic review of the literature was conducted in the MEDLINE database and in the SciELO virtual library, for the years of 1995 to 2004. Parameters such as the type of intervention or observation, length of follow-up, instrument utilized for measuring depression, sample size, losses during follow-up, and adjustments for confounding variables were analyzed. RESULTS: Fifteen articles were selected: eight were controlled randomized studies, five were cross-sectional studies and two were cohort studies. The methodological parameters analyzed differed among the studies evaluated. Many studies suggested an association between exercise and the prevention of depression in the elderly. However, the type and strength of the association differed among the different samples. CONCLUSION: The scientific literature in general, seems to support the beneficial effects of physical activity and exercise in preventing depression among the elderly. Nonetheless, further research is needed on the subject, with stricter methodological approaches.

Keywords : Systematic review; Epidemiology; Elderly people; Depression; Physical activity; Exercise.

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