Physical Activity, Motivation, and Depression in College Students

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ten Hope, Merritt I
Physical Activity; Motivation; Depression; Clinical Psychology; Health Psychology
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Depression is a major mental health concern. There is an established relationship between physical activity and depression, where greater levels of physical activity are related to (and may even predict) lower depression status. The current study set out to explore how three different types of physical activity and three different motivational factors for physical activity were related to depression in college students. Overall physical activity was not related to depression. However, strength training predicted lower depression, while body-related motivation predicted greater depression. Strength training was a significant predictor of lower depression in men, but not women. There was also a trend towards body-related motivation as a predictor for greater depression in both men and women. These findings suggest that (1) to decrease depression, men should look towards strength training exercises, and (2) that engaging in physical activity for body-related reasons can be related to greater depression in both men and women.