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Resistance Training to Treat Clinically Elevated Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms in Young People -- A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
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  • Ryan Marinelli,
  • Alexandra Parker,
  • Itamar Levinger,
  • Mary N. Woessner
Ryan Marinelli
Victoria University College of Sport and Exercise Science
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Alexandra Parker
Victoria University Institute for Health and Sport
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Itamar Levinger
Victoria University Institute for Health and Sport
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Mary N. Woessner
Victoria University Institute for Health and Sport

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Abstract

Background Children, adolescents and young adults are experiencing an increase in the prevalence of depressive and anxiety symptoms. Aerobic training (AT) has been shown to be effective at reducing symptoms, but the efficacy of resistance training (RT) in reducing anxiety and depression levels in young individuals is unclear. Aim To quantify the change in depressive or anxiety symptoms following RT in young individuals. Methods We searched MEDLINE, PsychINFO, and PubMed for articles published in English from January 1980 to February 2022 for randomised controlled trials (RCT) that included at least 4 weeks of RT, with participants aged 26 years or younger. A random-effects meta-analysis was used to calculate a pooled effect size of RT pre-and post-intervention compared to control groups and the quality of evidence was assessed using a Cochrane risk-of-bias 2 (RoB 2) and Grading of Recommendation, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) criteria. Results Ten RCTs were eligible for inclusion in the analysis. RT was associated with a significant reduction with a large-sized mean effect in depressive (Hedge’s g= -1.06, 95% CI -1.61 to -0.51, p<.001) and anxiety symptoms (Hedge’s g = -1.02, 95% CI -1.50 to -0.54, p <.001). Sensitivity analyses on the training variables were not conducted due to the small sample and large heterogeneity, however, a summary of the trials with a large effect size (≥-1.0) was conducted. Conclusion RT significantly reduces depression and anxiety symptoms in young people. Future studies exploring the effect RT training intervention with adequate detail and in various mental health treatment treating settings are warranted.