Exercise Depression and Learning in Young Adolescent Boys: A Descriptive Study
Van Winssen, Mary Lise
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The symptoms of adolescent depression are often dismissed as quirks of the age—increased irritability or agitation, lack of concentration, frequent complaints, sleep disturbances, eating disturbances, decrease in grades or missed assignments. The impact of these symptoms reaches deeply into the both the academic and social lives of these adolescents. Exercise is beginning to emerge as a potential alternative to standard drug treatment for depression; however, very little research has been conducted with adolescents. The purpose of this case study is to describe the experiences (thoughts, feelings and actions) of four adolescent males with symptoms of depression from multiple perspectives, while they were participating in a daily aerobic exercise program. Throughout an eight-week program of daily three-on-three basketball scrimmages led by the researcher, four “at risk” boys aged 10-13 were invited to describe their experiences: their thoughts, feelings, attitudes and their beliefs about their social and academic life. Their parents and teachers also shared their perspectives through questionnaires, interviews and informal conversations. Researcher observations and field notes made by the researcher throughout the school day, in addition to the other data were used in a cross-case analysis to develop an understanding of exercise and its effects on the social, emotional, and academic lives of these boys.