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Effects of physical exercise on depression, neuroendocrine stress hormones and physiological fitness in adolescent females with depressive symptoms

Chanudda Nabkasorn, Nobuyuki Miyai, Anek Sootmongkol, Suwanna Junprasert, Hiroichi Yamamoto, Mikio Arita, Kazuhisa Miyashita
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/cki159 179-184 First published online: 26 August 2005


Background: Regular physical exercise may improve a variety of physiological and psychological factors in depressive persons. However, there is little experimental evidence to support this assumption for adolescent populations. We conducted a randomized controlled trial to investigate the effect of physical exercise on depressive state, the excretions of stress hormones and physiological fitness variables in adolescent females with depressive symptoms. Methods: Forty-nine female volunteers (aged 18–20 years; mean 18.8 ± 0.7 years) with mild-to-moderate depressive symptoms, as measured by the Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) scale, were randomly assigned to either an exercise regimen or usual daily activities for 8 weeks. The subjects were then crossed over to the alternate regimen for an additional 8-week period. The exercise program consisted of five 50-min sessions per week of a group jogging training at a mild intensity. The variables measured were CES-D rating scale, urinary cortisol and epinephrine levels, and cardiorespiratory factors at rest and during exercise endurance test. Results: After the sessions of exercise the CES-D total depressive score showed a significant decrease, whereas no effect was observed after the period of usual daily activities (ANOVA). Twenty-four hour excretions of cortisol and epinephrine in urine were reduced due to the exercise regimen. The training group had a significantly reduced resting heart rate and increased peak oxygen uptake and lung capacity. Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that a group jogging exercise may be effective in improving depressive state, hormonal response to stress and physiological fitness of adolescent females with depressive symptoms.

  • adolescents
  • depression
  • exercise
  • female
  • randomized controlled trial
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