Physical activity of depressed patients and their motivation to exercise: Nordic Walking in family practice

Int J Rehabil Res. 2009 Jun;32(2):132-8. doi: 10.1097/MRR.0b013e32831e44ef.


The objectives of this study were to find out how motivated depressed patients are to exercise regularly, to measure the physical activity of depressed patients and to find out how regular Nordic Walking affects the mood and physical fitness of depressed patients. A cross-sectional study was carried out. Three years after the Prediction of Primary Episodes of Depression in Primary Medical Care study, telephone calls were made to 178 patients who had had depression during that study. We enquired whether and why they would be interested in starting regular Nordic Walking three times a week, at least 30 min at a time, for 24 weeks. Furthermore, there were questions about the patients' earlier physical activity. The Composite International Diagnostic Interview was used to assess depression. To measure physical fitness, we used an outdoor 2 km walking test. Altogether, 106 patients were interviewed, 48 (45%) of them were depressed and 58 (55%) were nondepressed. Of the depressed patients, 16, and of the nondepressed patients, five, started the training programme. During the past 2 years, 12 of the patients had not had any regular physical activity. One-fourth of the depressed patients completed the study. Mean fitness index was 21.99+/-20.38 at week 0 and 38.72+/-26.12 at week 24. The feedback of the patients and their families to the programme was positive. Depressed patients in family practice were physically inactive. About one-third of the depressed patients were motivated to start regular physical activity. Nordic Walking increased the patients' physical activity and improved their mood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Depression / rehabilitation*
  • Estonia
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Family Practice
  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Physical Fitness
  • Walking / physiology
  • Walking / psychology*