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Effects of Exercise on Physical Self-Concept, Global Self-Esteem, and Depression in Women of Low Socioeconomic Status With Elevated Depressive Symptoms

Fabien D. Legrand

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.

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Antidepressant Effects Associated with Different Exercise Conditions in Participants with Depression: A Pilot Study

Fabien Legrand and Jean Philippe Heuze

In this article, we examined the antidepressant influence of an 8-week-long aerobic exercise intervention in which two training parameters were manipulated: exercise frequency and group environment. Twenty-three individuals with elevated symptoms of depression were recruited in a sport and fitness facility and agreed to participate in this 8-week study. They were randomly assigned to three groups: (a) low-frequency exercise (control) (n = 7), (b) high-frequency exercise (n = 8), and (c) high-frequency exercise + group-based intervention (n = 8). Participants completed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II) at study entry, and at 4 and 8 weeks subsequently. The results showed that those in the high-frequency aerobic exercise experimental groups reported lower depression scores than those in the low-frequency (control) group at 4 weeks (13.2 ± 7.3 and 11.7 ± 3.1 vs. 22.4 ± 7.5) and 8 weeks (10.9 ± 8.1 and 9.6 ± 2.5 vs. 20.7 ± 6.3). However, alleviation in depressive symptoms was not found to be greater in those participants who received a group-based intervention.