Preferred intensity exercise: A useful strategy for young people with depression

Presentation First Author: 
Tim Carter

Introduction: Despite evidence suggesting that exercise is effective in treating depression, there remains a lack of clinical trials testing its effect on depressed young people who utilise mental health services. Moreover, no qualitative research has been conducted that explores young people’s experience of engaging in an exercise intervention designed to treat depression.


To determine the effectiveness of exercise in reducing depressive symptoms for young people receiving treatment for depression

To explore young people’s experience of engaging in an exercise intervention


The intervention was evaluated using a mixed methods approach. A Randomised Controlled Trial was used to determine the effectiveness of the intervention. Young people aged 14-17 years, receiving treatment for depression were randomly allocated to either 12 sessions of preferred intensity exercise alongside treatment as usual or treatment as usual only. Outcomes were taken at baseline, post intervention and at six month follow up. The primary outcome was depressive symptom change at post intervention using the Children’s Depression Inventory 2nd Version (CDI-2). Twenty-six semi-structured interviews were also conducted with young people who received the intervention.


87 young people were randomised into the study. No significant difference was observed between groups at post intervention on CDI-2 change scores (est. 95% CI -7.07, 2.65 p=0.37). However, a statistically significant difference was observed on the CDI-2 at six month follow-up in favour of the intervention (est. 95% CI -9.43, -0.52, p=0.04). The themes generated from the interview data suggest that participants experienced numerous psychological, social and physical benefits both during and following their engagement in the intervention.


Conference Name: 
Date of Presentation: 
9th Oct 2015
Type of presentation: 
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