RESEARCH – April 2008

Physical fitness and influencing it in patients with recurrent depressive disorder


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A body of epidemiological research suggests that regular physical activity may be associated with reduced depressive symptoms. Some studies suggest that physical activity can be used as an alternative to more traditional drug treatments for treating depression. Although an increasing amount of research has addressed this theory, there still remain some methodological issues related to the design, frequency and duration
of physical activity.
OBJECTIVES. (1) To measure the physical activity of depressed patients, (2) to find out how regular physical activity (Nordic Walking) affects the mood and physical fitness of depressed patients; (3) how to motivate depressed patients to exercise regularly.
METHODS. The study group was formed of 106 primary care depressed patients. The occurrence of depression was assessed by the Composite Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). To measure physical fitness we used 2 km walking test. Every patient was inquired about his/her previous physical activity; they had to evaluate their mood on a 10-point scale.
RESULTS. Altogether 48 patients were depressed and 33% of them (n = 16) were motivated to start regular Nordic Walking. The previous physical activity of the study
group was a low: 57% of patients said that they had not had any physical activity during the past 2–3 years. The 2 km walking test was completed by 16 depressed patients and by 5 non-depressed patients. All participants received information about the regular 12-week Nordic Walking training programme and poles. After 12-week individual exercising, the 2 km walking test were repeated.
CONCLUSION. The level of physical activity of depressed patients was low. Regular Nordic Walking increased their fitness and improved their mood significantly.