British Journal of Health Psychology

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Volume 16 Issue 3 (September 2011), Pages 457-674

Exploring the effectiveness of an integrated exercise/CBT intervention for young men's mental health (pages 457-471)

Objective.  This pilot study investigated the effectiveness of a team‐based sport/psychosocial intervention (Back of the Net, BTN) with an individual exercise (IE) and a control condition for the mental health of young men.

Design.  Ten‐week randomized control trial and eight‐week post‐intervention follow‐up.

Methods.  A total of 104 sedentary males aged between 18 and 40 years were recruited and randomly assigned to the BTN, IE, or a control condition. The BTN programme integrated team sport (i.e., football) and cognitive‐behavioural techniques. IE sessions included aerobic and resistance training. The control group refrained from exercise. Participants completed the Beck Depression Inventory – 2nd Edition (BDI‐II), the Social Provisions Scale (SPS) and a short qualitative questionnaire at pre‐intervention, week 5, post‐intervention and at 8‐week follow‐up.

Results.  Participants in both the BTN and the IE condition demonstrated a significant decrease in BDI‐II scores compared to the control condition at post‐intervention 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. Qualitative data support the main empirical findings.

Conclusion.  Exercise‐based interventions were effective in reducing symptoms of depression in a non‐clinical community sample of young men. The BTN programme demonstrated potential for improving the mental health of young men however larger scale community‐based research is warranted to further examine the effectiveness of this type of intervention.

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