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Exercise Linked to Reduction in Suicide Attempts

However, no significant decrease seen in suicidal ideation or mortality between exercise and control groups

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, April 3, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Exercise is associated with a significant reduction in suicide attempts among individuals with mental or physical conditions, according to a systemic review and meta-analysis published online in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Nicholas Fabiano, M.D., from the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) examining exercise and suicidal ideation in individuals with mental or physical conditions. A total of 17 RCTs with 1,021 participants were identified; mean follow-up was 10.0 weeks.

The condition included most often was depression (71 percent). The researchers observed no significant difference in postintervention suicidal ideation between the exercise and control groups. Participants randomly assigned to exercise interventions had a significant reduction in suicide attempts compared with inactive controls (odds ratio, 0.23). The risk for bias was high in 14 studies.

“Exercise did significantly decrease suicide attempts (in the small number of studies measuring this) among those suffering from mental or physical illness. There was no significant difference in discontinuation between participants exercising and controls,” the authors write. “This demonstrates that adherence for those with mental or physical illness [is] not as infeasible as often assumed, which should eliminate physicians’ hesitation to prescribe exercise to these groups.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to industry.

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