Improved Sleep Quality and Depressive Symptoms With Exercise Training in Obese Women From a Low Socioeconomic Community: A Randomized Controlled Trial

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Improving sleep quality and reducing depressive symptoms may be target mechanisms for intervention-based research aimed at reducing cardiometabolic risk in low-income communities. This study assessed the effects of exercise training on depressive symptoms and sleep in obese women for a low socioeconomic community. The secondary aim explored associations between changes in depressive symptoms and sleep with changes in cardiorespiratory fitness and cardiometabolic risk factors. Methods: Participants were randomized into exercise (n = 20) or control (n = 15) groups. The exercise group completed 12 weeks of combined resistance and aerobic training (40–60 min, 4 d/wk), and the control group maintained habitual diet and activity. Preintervention and postintervention testing included questionnaires on symptoms of depression, psychological distress, and sleep quality. Sedentary time, peak oxygen consumption, body mass index, and insulin sensitivity were measured objectively. Sleep duration (accelerometry) was assessed at preintervention and weeks 4, 8, and 12. Results: Exercise training reduced depressive symptoms (P = .002) and improved sleep quality (P < .001) and sleep efficiency (P = .005). Reduced depressive symptoms were associated with improved peak oxygen consumption (rho = −.600, P < .001), and improved sleep quality correlated with reduced sedentary time (rho = .415, P = .018). Conclusion: These results highlight the potential for community-based exercise interventions to simultaneously address multiple comorbidities in a low-income setting.

Mendham, Goedecke, Fortuin-de Smidt, Phiri, Clamp, Swart, and Rae are with the Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Department of Human Biology, Health through Physical Activity and Lifestyle Research Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa. Mendham is also with the MRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Goedecke and Fortuin-de Smidt are also with the Non-Communicable Diseases Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa. Lipinska is with the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.

Mendham (ae.mendham@uct.ac.za) is corresponding author.
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