Young Men Can Treat Their Depression With Exercise

According to this study, young men who participated in a 10 week program of  aerobic and resistance training experienced a significant reduction in their symptoms of depression.

And based upon my experience with exercise & depression….I’m not surprised.

While it’s not a substitute for proper medical care, an exercise prescription for depression has been shown as an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression in numerous studies…as in real life.

This particular study was originally designed to test the effectiveness of a team-based sport/psycological intervention program called Back of the Net, a community based initiative that integrates cognitive behavioural strategies with sport and exercise and has been shown to be effective for improving psychological well-being among young adult men.

The Study

104 sedentary males aged between 18 and 40 years were assigned to one of three groups

  1. The control group – no exercise, no CBT
  2. The Back of the Net (BTN) group – a combination of team sport & cognitive-behavioral therapy
  3. The individual exercise (IE) group – a combination of aerobic & resistance training with no CBT


Participants in both the BTN and the IE condition demonstrated a significant decrease in their symptoms of depression compared to the control condition at the end of the study and at 8-week follow-up. The IE condition demonstrated significantly greater perceived social support than the BTN condition at week 5 and the control group at 8-week follow-up.

The researchers concluded that exercise-based interventions were effective in reducing symptoms of depression in a non-clinical community sample of young men.

And since many young men refuse to seek any mental health treatment unless they are severely distressed, concerned family members are often forced to watch their stubborn male relatives suffer with depression.

But since sport & exercise don’t carry the social stigma of psychotherapy or anti-depressants, there is no longer any need to avoid treatment for depression.


Douglas Robb

Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, and a student of nutrition and exercise science. He's also the co-founder of the Hive Health Media. Since 2008, Doug has expanded his impact by bringing his real-world experience online via the health & fitness blog – Health Habits.

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