August 9, 2023

Study: Effects of exercise on HCW depression, burnout, absenteeism

Editor's Note

This Canadian study examines the extent to which a 12-week app-based exercise intervention can reduce depressive symptoms, burnout, and absenteeism in healthcare workers (HCWs).

A total of 288 HCWs were included in this two-group (142 in exercise group, 146 in control group) randomized clinical trial.

Exercise group participants were assigned to complete four 20-minute sessions per week using a suite of body weight interval training, yoga, barre, and running apps.

Results showed:

  • significant reductions in depressive symptoms; two subfacets of burnout, cynicism and emotional exhaustion; and absenteeism, with a stabilization of sick days for HCWs in the exercise group and an increase of sick days in the control group
  • exercise was particularly effective for those who engaged with the apps at least 80 minutes per week
  • adherence to the exercises declined over the 12 weeks, and only 33 in the exercise group were using the apps at the end of the trial.

This study provided the first evidence that exercising at home with a suite of exercise apps, using little to no equipment, can improve the mental health of HCWs, the researchers says.


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