New York: Working out regularly may brighten the mood of people with chronic health problems like cancer, heart disease and back pain, according to the first sweeping look at previous research.But it`s no miracle cure: On average, six people would need to hit the gym or go for a jog for one person to see a mood improvement."It`s a nice piece of evidence and I`m pleased because I like the concept," said Dr. Alan J. Gelenberg, who chairs the department of psychiatry at Penn State University in Hershey.Gelenberg, who wasn`t involved in the new work, said the findings jibe with guidelines from the American Psychiatric Association, which recommends regular exercise against the blues."There is some evidence for its use to prevent depression, and there actually is evidence for exercise as a treatment in itself," he told Reuters Health.With the new study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers wanted to weigh the evidence that training can also help chronically ill people who don`t have a diagnosis of depression, but nonetheless may feel down.That`s important because depressive symptoms could make people less likely to take their meds, could increase their use of health services and decrease their quality of life, said Matthew Herring of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.He and his colleagues combed through 90 previous studies including more than 10,000 people with health problems like cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), fibromyalgia, chronic pain or obesity.In each study, people had been randomly chosen to do exercises -- on average, three times a week over 17 weeks -- or not.According to Herring, people`s depressive symptoms, as rated on a variety of psychological scales, dropped about 22 percent with exercise overall. That`s similar to the effects on fatigue, anxiety, pain and other mental health outcomes."The magnitude of the effect of exercise training on depressive symptoms among patients found in our review is small but significant," he told Reuters Health by email.Herring added that moderate -- at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week -- and vigorous -- at least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week -- seemed to help the most.
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