In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we examine the effectiveness of physical activity in managing co-morbid depression in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus. We aim to assess the effects of physical activity on both depression severity and glycaemic control in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
We conducted a search of randomized controlled clinical trials from the earliest record to October 2021. The criteria for inclusion in this study were adults with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes mellitus and the comparison of physical activity with no interventions or usual care for the management of depression. The primary outcomes of interest were the change in depression severity and glycaemic control.
After careful selection, we included 17 trials with a total of 1362 participants in this review. The analysis showed that physical activity was effective in reducing the severity of depressive symptoms (SMD = -0.57; 95%CI = -0.80, -0.34). However, physical activity did not have a significant effect in improving markers of glycaemic control (SMD = -0.18; 95%CI = -0.46, 0.10). It is important to note that there was substantial heterogeneity among the included studies, and most of the studies were of low quality according to the risk of bias assessment.
The results of this study suggest that physical activity can effectively reduce the severity of depressive symptoms in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus. However, it appears that physical activity may not significantly improve glycaemic control in this population. This finding is surprising, considering the potential benefits of physical activity in diabetes management. Nevertheless, it is crucial to consider the limitations of the included studies, particularly their quality and heterogeneity.
In conclusion, based on the current evidence, physical activity can be an effective intervention for managing co-morbid depression in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus. It has the potential to reduce depressive symptoms and improve overall well-being. However, its impact on glycaemic control may be limited. Future research should aim to address the gaps in the literature by conducting high-quality trials that specifically investigate the effects of physical activity on both depression and glycaemic control in this population.