The effect of therapeutic exercise on depressive symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis – A systematic review

Published:November 08, 2022DOI:


      • Depression is around 25 – 50% in people with MS.
      • Therapeutic exercise reduces depressive symptoms.
      • Robotic gait training and aerobic exercise are highly recommend.



      The prevalence of depressive symptoms in people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is around 25 – 50% and affects their daily life and general quality of life. Several studies investigating therapeutic exercise have shown highly beneficial effects in preventing or reducing depressive symptoms. The present systematic review was conducted to investigate randomized controlled trials on the effectiveness of therapeutic exercise programs on depressive symptoms in people with MS.


      A search was performed in PubMed, Scopus, APA Psychnet and ResearchGate. The keywords used were: therapeutic exercise, physiotherapy, physiotherapy, physical therapy, rehabilitation, depression, depressive disorders and multiple sclerosis. In addition, specific inclusion and exclusion criteria were set and the study selection process was conducted by two separate reviewers. The quality of the final studies included in the systematic review was assessed using the PEDro scale.


      Out of the total of 934 studies initially identified, 9 studies were finally included. The results showed that physiotherapy interventions, through aerobic exercise, robotic-assisted gait training with or without virtual reality, aerobic exercise combined with Pilates, interval training, video-games and finally clinical Pilates, improve patients' depression and in many cases with much better results compared to classic physiotherapy type interventions.


      The effect of therapeutic exercise has a positive impact on the depressive symptoms of people with MS. However, future research in this field is necessary to find the most proven curative forms to reduce depressive symptoms and improve the daily life of these patients.


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