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We examined the possible mediating role of physical self-perceptions, physical self-esteem, and global self-esteem in the relationships between exercise and depression in a group of socioeconomically disadvantaged women with elevated symptoms of depression. Forty-four female residents of a low-income housing complex were randomized into a 7-week-long exercise-training group or a wait-list group. Depression, physical self-perceptions and self-esteem were measured repeatedly. Significant changes were found for depression, self-esteem, physical self-worth, and self-perceived physical condition in the exercise-training group. Intent-to-treat analyses did not alter the results. Most of the reduction in depression occurred between Week 2 and Week 4 while initial improvement in physical self-worth and self-perceived physical condition was observed between baseline and Week 2. These variables can be seen as plausible mechanisms for effects of exercise on depression.
Fabien D. Legrand is with EA 6291, Cognition Health and Socialization, Department of Psychology, University of Reims Champagne Ardenne, Reims, France. Address author correspondence to Fabien D. Legrand at firstname.lastname@example.org.