DOI: 10.3390/jfmk8030125 ISSN:

Effects of Peer-Supported and Self-Guided Exercise on Self-Reported Anxiety and Depression among Young Adults—A Pilot Study

Xihe Zhu, Michael D. Kostick, Justin A. Haegele
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Histology
  • Rheumatology
  • Anatomy

Mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression became heightened issues for college-aged young adults during the global pandemic. The main purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a peer-supported exercise intervention on young adults (vs. self-guided exercise) who reported elevated levels of anxiety and/or depression. A parallel group design was used where young adults (n = 27) were randomly assigned to either a peer-supported or self-guided exercise group which lasted for eight weeks. The generalized anxiety and depression subscales of the Counseling Center Assessment of Psychological Symptoms (CCAPS-34) were measured for a baseline and then at 4-week, 8-week, and 12-week follow-up. Analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) with repetitive measures show that peer-supported and self-guided exercise programs reduced participant anxiety and depression scores; however, intervention decay for the peer-supported exercise intervention was more severe than that for the self-guided group. Self-guided exercise had a longer-lasting effect than the peer-supported alternative and could be a cost-effective approach to combat anxiety and depression issues among young adults.

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