African Americans; Depression; Depression; Mental; Exercise; Stokols’ Social Ecology of Health Promotion; Systematic review


Community-Based Research | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Mental and Social Health | Public Health | Race and Ethnicity


Objectives: Randomized trials found physical activity (PA) effective in decreasing depressive symptoms. Few studies included Black participants. The purpose of this systematic literature review was to determine the effects of PA on depressive symptoms in Black adults. Methods: Articles were abstracted by conducting a computer and hand search of eligible studies. Results: Eight of 13 studies found a significant inverse relationship between PA and depressive symptoms in Black adults. Sources for the heterogeneity were explored. Conclusion: Future studies should include representative samples of Black adults, incorporate a theory which considers multiple levels of influence, account for genetic factors in the etiology of depressive symptoms, include individuals diagnosed with depression and with health conditions which may increase the risk of depressive symptoms, account for intra-group ethnic heterogeneity, measure and differentiate between social support and social network, consider aspects of the physical environment and use standardized measurements of PA.