The Effects Of A Running Treatment Program On Depressed Adolescents (aerobic)

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology


Purpose. Many adolescents in the schools who are suffering from depression are not identified as such and receive little help. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relative effectiveness of three physical education activities; aerobic (running), anaerobic (weight training), and low physical activity (Red Cross) on depression levels in adolescents.Procedure. Seven hundred high school physical education students were screened for depression using the Depression Adjective Checklist (DACL). Forty-five subjects who scored above the 93rd percentile on two administrations of the DACL were assigned to one of the three treatment groups based on a stratified random sampling procedure. Pre-treatment measures included the DACL, One Minute Step Test, weight, and blood pressure. At post-treatment, subjects were reassessed on the physical measures and post tested for depression using the DACL and the Multiscore Depression Inventory (MDI). The independent variable in this study was the level of physiological activity.Findings. Subjects in all three treatment groups demonstrated significantly lower levels of depression at post treatment. The hypotheses which stated that the groups would differ in depression and/or cardiovascular fitness levels were not supported. Also not supported was the hypothesis that those in the running group who demonstrated the greatest physical fitness gains would also demonstrate lower MDI scores. No relationship between increases in cardiovascular fitness and decreases in depression was found. Unexpectedly, females in all three groups decreased their depression scores more than males at post-treatment.Conclusions. Within the limitations of the study, the following conclusions appear to be justified: (1) the specific components of a treatment program may not be as important as providing subjects with an opportunity to develop a sense of mastery and to gain friendships in a nonthreatening environment. This supports a psychological rather than a physiological rationale for the reductions in depression; (2) certain activities designed to decrease depression may be more effective for females than for males.


Education, Educational Psychology

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