Impact of Exercise Training on Depression among People with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Narrative Review

Nizar Abdul Majeed Kutty, Dinuraj Ramakrishna Pillai


Purpose: The prevalence of clinically relevant depressive symptoms among clients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus is in the range of 30%. Since these conditions are often under-diagnosed and under-treated in clinical practice, they negatively affect functional recovery, adherence to treatment, and the quality of life. Despite the large body of evidence regarding the effects of exercise training on different aspects of diabetes, no updated conclusive article that reviews depression is available. This article aims to review the current literature on exercise training and its effect on depression in people with Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Method: An electronic search of literature from 2010, highlighting the effects of exercise on depression among Type 2 diabetes mellitus clients, was conducted using Google Scholar and PubMed.  Relevant articles were utilised for this review.  The selected studies are based on relational and rehabilitative exercise training approaches.

Results: While most of the studies support the efficacy of exercise training, study settings and described models are not conclusive.  No single clearly defined model exists for exercise training for depression among people with diabetes. There is evidence for the efficacy of supervised aerobic exercise in the treatment of depression, when undertaken three times weekly at moderate intensity, for a minimum of eight weeks. Further research is required to develop specific exercise training models that can be tested in experimental studies for this client group.

Conclusion: The current review showed that exercise training can be used to alleviate depression among people with diabetes. Future studies should adopt rigorous methodological criteria to back up the present findings.


Exercise training; Type 2 diabetes; depression; aerobic

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