AbstractParticipation in physical activity (PA) may lead to positive improvements in mental health status. Prescription Exercise at Queen's (PE-Q) is an eight-week PA program that offers students with mild to moderate depression and/or anxiety with the option to supplement their treatment with exercise. The program includes personal training sessions, self-selected PA, and a peer-delivered 'Brief Action Planning' self-management component. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of the PE-Q program on participants' mental health symptoms and PA behaviour and social cognitions (based on the Health Action Process Approach). Twenty-one participants completed pre-, mid- and post-program online questionnaires. Separate repeated measures ANOVAs and post-hoc t-tests evaluated changes in participants' mental health symptoms, PA behaviour and social cognitions. Significant decreases in participants' depression symptoms and anxiety symptoms were reported from pre- to mid-program (ds ? 0.98; ps < 0.05), which were maintained from mid- to post-program. Significant increases in participants' PA planning and action control were reported from pre-to mid-program (ds ? 1.04; ps < 0.05), which were also maintained from mid- to post-program. In general, students provided high ratings for program instructiveness, usefulness, credibility, and personal importance (all Ms ? 5.57 out of 7). While these findings contribute to existing literature on holistic treatment programs for students with mental illnesses, further testing with a control group and an adequately-powered sample is warranted.
Acknowledgments: Funding for the PE-Q program 2017-2018 was provided by a Special Projects Grant from Michael Condra in the Department of Psychology at Queen's University. Initial startup funding for the PE-Q program was provided by the First Year Experience Fund (Queen's University) and jack.org. Ms. Flood is supported by a SSHRC Canadian Graduate Scholarship - Master's.