Depression is highly prevalent in society and frequently recurs in patients with chronic diseases. Previous observational studies have suggested that regular physical exercise may be associated with reduced symptoms of depression. Population studies have shown that lifestyle intervention programmes promoting physical activity have a protective effect on depression. Findings also support the viewpoint of the protective impact of regular exercising on depression among the elderly. There is clear evidence that an exercise training programme may even be considered an alternative to antidepressants for treatment of depression. At present an important health-promoting task is to counsel and motivate the depressive patient for a suitable form of regular physical activity.