Do adolescents with bipolar disorder experience changes in exercise-induced feelings similar to healthy adolescents?


The purpose of this study was to determine if adolescents with bipolar disorder (BD) experience changes in exercise-induced feelings from an acute bout of exercise similar to their healthy peers. Twenty-five adolescents with BD and 19 healthy adolescents were recruited at Sunnybrook Hospital. Participants completed the Exercise-Induced Feeling Inventory (EFI) before and after a 20-minute bout of moderate intensity exercise on a cycle ergometer. A repeated-measures ANCOVA was conducted on the four main EFI categories (Positive Engagement, Revitalization, Physical Exhaustion and Tranquility), controlling for baseline HR, RPE, age and adjusted BMI. No significant between-group changes in exercise-induced feelings were found between adolescents with BD and the control group. Within-subject, paired t-tests revealed that only the control group demonstrated a significant increase post-exercise on the Positive Engagement subscale. Nevertheless, both groups did report improvements in Positive Engagement (BD (M ± SD): 0.32 ± 1.00, p=0.12; Control (M ± SD): 0.46 ± 0.59, p<0.01) and Revitalization (BD: 0.43 ± 1.12, p=0.07; Control: 0.47 ± 1.03, p=0.06) post-exercise compared to baseline testing. The BD group reported a high Physical Exhaustion score at baseline (2.28 ± 1.03), which subsequently decreased post-exercise (1.89 ± 1.07), although it still remained higher than values reported by the control group (Pre: 1.33 ± 0.98; Post: 1.44 ± 1.01). There was greater individual variability on the EFI in the BD group compared to the control group. In conclusion, the non-significant changes found in the BD group may suggest that adolescents with BD respond differently to a bout of exercise compared to healthy adolescents. Speculatively, this may be a result of pathological energy metabolism, vascular dysfunction, and structural and/or functional brain changes that have been associated with  BD. Future research is needed in confirming this possibility and in identifying possible implications for exercise participation in this population.

Acknowledgments: Ontario Mental Health Foundation