The study focused on using exercise apps like DownDog, which offer various home workout options, including yoga, cardio and strength training . The positive impact was most pronounced in participants who exercised at least 80 minutes weekly.
The study involved two groups: one that engaged in regular exercise and another control group. Those who exercised experienced not only a reduction in depressive symptoms but also improvements in burnout levels and a decrease in sick days taken.
Dr Vincent Gosselin-Boucher, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia (UBC) School of Kinesiology, highlighted that the exercise group reported significantly lower depressive symptoms as the study progressed. This research underlines the importance of incorporating exercise into mental health initiatives for healthcare workers, especially in the global mental health crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic .
Dr Eli Puterman, an associate professor at UBC’s School of Kinesiology and the study’s lead author, emphasized that offering accessible and easy ways to exercise could significantly enhance healthcare workers’ mental well-being . The study was conducted in collaboration with Providence Health Care and involved participants from acute and long-term care hospitals in Vancouver, with most participants being female nurses.
However, maintaining adherence to the recommended exercise regimen proved challenging. While 54% of participants initially followed the program’s 80-minute exercise per week guideline, this dropped to only 23% between the second and twelfth weeks.
Researchers are considering incorporating motivational support, such as fitness coaches, to help participants maintain their exercise routines to address this issue. Future studies will explore the broader impacts of such interventions over more extended periods, including mental, physical and economic effects.
In addition, healthcare institutions should consider additional means of supporting physical activity among healthcare workers, such as providing free gym memberships, incorporating walk breaks during work shifts or establishing exercise facilities within hospitals.
While the study highlighted the potential of interventions like exercise apps, it also stressed the importance of addressing factors that hinder healthcare workers from exercising, whether these are work-related stressors or other barriers.
Enhancing the comprehensive support provided to healthcare professionals across various dimensions is imperative for safeguarding their holistic wellbeing.
Discover further insights on this matter through JAMA Network.