Effects of Aerobic Exercise Intensity on Clinical & Neural Outcomes in Depressed Youth

2019-10-04 08:31:35 | BioPortfolio


This study will assess the effects of moderate vs. high intensity aerobic exercise, performed 3 times a week for 12 weeks under supervised conditions, on symptoms of depression, cognitive functioning and brain function in transitional aged youth (TAY: aged 16-24 years).


Rationale: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a debilitating disorder characterized by persistent negative mood and a broad range of cognitive, and functional impairments. MDD is estimated to affect 4.4% of the global population, or over 300 million individuals, representing the single largest contributor to non-fatal health loss worldwide. Current treatment options are associated with sub-optimal rates of remission, with only 30-35% of MDD sufferers attaining remission with antidepressant drug monotherapy. One group for whom treatment selection is a particular challenge is transitional aged youth (TAY), encompassing the late teenage years into the early twenties. Although MDD onset typically occurs during this period - as high as 8.2% in Canadian TAY - the psychiatric community has only recently begun to recognize TAY as a unique psychiatric cohort in need of directed treatment. For example, although the use selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) is the first-line treatment for MDD in adults, their utility in TAY is hampered by the possibility of increased suicidal ideation within this cohort. The need for alternative and tailored treatment options for TAY with MDD is therefore of paramount importance. Aerobic exercise (AE) has recently been recognized as one such intervention, with some reports showing outcomes comparable to pharmacological and psychotherapeutic approaches in adult populations. Few studies however, have investigated to what extent these findings extend to TAY. Further, there is little consensus as to which intensity level, or "dose", of AE offers the most benefit, which neural features underlie the putative benefits of AE in depressed TAY, and the impact on both psychosocial and cognitive processes.

Objectives: The primary objectives of this study are: 1) to determine the effects of moderate vs. high intensity AE on clinically-rated and subjective symptoms of MDD in TAY; and 2) to examine the psychosocial, cognitive, and neuromodulatory effects of these interventions.

Methods: This two-arm, randomized trial will recruit 40 TAY (16-24 yrs) with MDD/persistent depressive disorder (PDD) into one of two AE intensity groups: medium or high. Intensity is defined as a percentage of heart rate reserve (HRR) achieved during exercise, as outlined in the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines (moderate: 50-55% of HRR; N=20; high: 80-85% HRR; N=20). All participants will undergo supervised and guided AE intervention sessions (~30min), three times per week, for twelve consecutive weeks. Pertinent clinical and psychosocial scores, as well as cardiac function (as assessed by maximal oxygen consumption [VO2max]), will be recorded pre-intervention (Week 0), mid-intervention (Week 6), and post-intervention (Week 12). Additionally, participants will undergo electroencephalographic (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance neuroimaging (fMRI) before and after the completion of AE intervention. Specifically, neural dynamics will be recorded at rest and during cognitive tasks engaging working memory (N-Back task) and response inhibition (Flanker task) - cognitive abilities, which have been shown to be impaired in MDD in TAY. Both clinical/psychosocial and neuroimaging outcomes will be compared using time as the within-group, and intervention type as between-group factors.

Hypotheses: The investigators expect a significant reduction in depression symptoms post (vs. pre) intervention and, based on preliminary evidence in adults, a greater reduction may emerge in those participating in the high (vs. moderate) intensity AE. Further, the investigators expect changes in fMRI profiles from pre- to post-intervention (showing normalization of brain activity and connectivity profiles); the same is true of EEG/event-related potential (ERP) features. They also expect a positive relation between VO2max and brain-based changes.

Significance: Findings from this project will help guide future large-scale investigations of AE as a potential treatment for TAY by clarifying the relation between changes to physical indices, depressive symptoms and neural profiles. Importantly, identifying the brain features modulated by AE will broaden our understanding of the neurobiological markers underlying depressive states, allowing for targeted therapeutic approaches and better outcomes for TAY suffering from MDD.

Study Design




Aerobic Exercise


University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research
K1Z 7K4




The Royal's Institute of Mental Health Research

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2019-10-04T08:31:35-0400

Clinical Trials [3340 Associated Clinical Trials listed on BioPortfolio]

Acute Aerobic Exercise and Neuroplasticity in Depression

Depression is associated with a disruption in the mechanisms that regulate neuroplasticity. Effective treatment and rehabilitation of depression, and other neurological and neuropsychiatri...

The Acute Effect of Aerobic Exercise on Sleep in Patients With Depression

The aim of this trial is to investigate the effects of a single bout of aerobic exercise on sleep in patients with depression.

The Effect of Exercise on Depressive Symptoms in Unmedicated Patients

This trial investigates the biological effect of exercise training on depression. Participants will randomly be allocated to either a aerobic exercise group performing exercise on stationa...

Aerobic Exercise as add-on Treatment for Inpatients With Depression

The aim of the study is to evaluate the effect of 6 weeks of aerobic endurance exercise as adon treatment for moderately to severely depressed inpatients. Endpoints are symptom severity, p...

Bikram Yoga and Aerobic Exercise for the Treatment of Major Depression

The primary goal of this project was to examine the antidepressant effects of yoga as an alternative treatment for depression as compared to no treatment and aerobic exercise. The secondar...

PubMed Articles [4954 Associated PubMed Articles listed on BioPortfolio]

Effectiveness of Aerobic Exercise Programs for Health Promotion in Metabolic Syndrome.

Continuous and interval are the two types of aerobic exercise training commonly used for health promotion. We sought to determine which aerobic exercise training program results in larger health impro...

Aerobic exercise with blood flow restriction affects mood state in a similar fashion to high intensity interval exercise.

We investigated the acute effects of aerobic exercise with blood flow restriction (BFR) on mood state in American football athletes. Twenty-two male American football athletes were randomly assigned t...

Light Aerobic Exercise Modulates Executive Function and Cortical Excitability.

Single bouts of aerobic exercise can modulate cortical excitability and executive cognitive function, but less is known about the effect of light intensity exercise, an intensity of exercise more achi...

Resistance training in addition to aerobic activity is associated with lower likelihood of depression and comorbid depression and anxiety symptoms: A cross sectional analysis of Australian women.

The mental health benefits of resistance training (RT) alone or beyond those provided by aerobic physical activity (PA) are unclear. This study aimed to determine the association between meeting recom...

The Role of Exercise in Preventing and Treating Depression.

Depression is a leading cause of global burden. The mainstay of treatment is pharmacological and psychological interventions. While effective, not all people will respond to those treatments and alter...

Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

Controlled physical activity, more strenuous than at rest, which is performed in order to allow assessment of physiological functions, particularly cardiovascular and pulmonary, but also aerobic capacity. Maximal (most intense) exercise is usually required but submaximal exercise is also used. The intensity of exercise is often graded, using criteria such as rate of work done, oxygen consumption, and heart rate.

Alternating sets of exercise that work out different muscle groups and that also alternate between aerobic and anaerobic exercises, which, when combined together, offer an overall program to improve strength, stamina, balance, or functioning.

The exercise capacity of an individual as measured by endurance (maximal exercise duration and/or maximal attained work load) during an EXERCISE TEST.

Decompression external to the body, most often the slow lessening of external pressure on the whole body (especially in caisson workers, deep sea divers, and persons who ascend to great heights) to prevent DECOMPRESSION SICKNESS. It includes also sudden accidental decompression, but not surgical (local) decompression or decompression applied through body openings.

Depression in POSTPARTUM WOMEN, usually within four weeks after giving birth (PARTURITION). The degree of depression ranges from mild transient depression to neurotic or psychotic depressive disorders. (From DSM-IV, p386)

More From BioPortfolio on "Effects of Aerobic Exercise Intensity on Clinical & Neural Outcomes in Depressed Youth"

Quick Search

Relevant Topics

Women's Health
Women's Health - key topics include breast cancer, pregnancy, menopause, stroke Follow and track Women's Health News on BioPortfolio: Women's Health News RSS Women'...

Drug Discovery
Clinical Approvals Clinical Trials Drug Approvals Drug Delivery Drug Discovery Generics Drugs Prescription Drugs In the fields of medicine, biotechnology and pharmacology, drug discovery is the process by which drugs are dis...

Searches Linking to this Trial