UT Southwestern Medical Center
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Pilot Studies to Evaluate Feasibility of a Physical Activity Intervention in Persons with Depression
- Published on April 25, 2019
Depressive disorders are associated with high disease burden and high rates of medical comorbidities. Exercise interventions have been shown to reduce depressive symptoms and help improve physical health outcomes in persons with depression. However, the interventions used in studies demonstrating exercise as an efficacious treatment for depression are unlikely to be adopted into clinical practice due to the significant resources (personnel, facilities, equipment) required to deliver these interventions. This suggests the need for more efficient interventions for increasing physical activity in persons with depression. Two pilot studies were conducted to determine the feasibility of a multi-component physical activity intervention in persons with depression. Components of the intervention included group educational sessions about increasing physical activity, a Fitbit, and access to on-site exercise facility. The results from these pilot studies show significant decreases in depressive symptoms post intervention (PA: t(13)= 3.51, p = .004; BC: t(13) = 3.05, p = .009). 100% of participants in the PA pilot and 85.7% of participants in the BC pilot responded that they benefited overall from the study. These results indicate that implementing a multi-component physical activity intervention is feasible and can reduce depressive symptoms and other psychosocial outcomes. Limitations and future directions for physical activity interventions are discussed.