Physical exercise through mountain hiking in high-risk suicide patients. A randomized crossover trial

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2012 Dec;126(6):467-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2012.01860.x. Epub 2012 Apr 6.

Abstract

Objective: The following crossover pilot study attempts to prove the effects of endurance training through mountain hiking in high-risk suicide patients.

Method: Participants (n = 20) having attempted suicide at least once and clinically diagnosed with hopelessness were randomly distributed among two groups. Group 1 (n = 10) began with a 9-week hiking phase followed by a 9-week control phase. Group 2 (n = 10) worked vice versa. Assessments included the Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Beck Scale of Suicide Ideation (BSI), and maximum physical endurance.

Results: Ten participants of Group 1 and seven participants of Group 2 completed the study. A comparison between conditions showed that, in the hiking phase, there was a significant decrease in hopelessness (P < 0.0001, d = -1.4) and depression (P < 0.0001, d = -1.38), and a significant increase in physical endurance (P < 0.0001, d = 1.0), but no significant effect for suicide ideation (P = 0.25, d = -0.29). However, within the hiking phase, there was a significant decrease in suicide ideation (P = 0.005, d = -0.79).

Conclusion: The results suggest that a group experience of regular monitored mountain hiking, organized as an add-on therapy to usual care, is associated with an improvement of hopelessness, depression, and suicide ideation in patients suffering from high-level suicide risk.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Suicide / prevention & control*
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / prevention & control
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology