BACKGROUND: While research about the relationship between mental health and exercise has been studied, there has been little research into the effects of resistance training on mental health. People enjoy many ways to exercise and given the current literature, most studies have focused on aerobic exercise instead of resistance training. Additionally, autonomously working out (e.g., self-selected exercises) opposed to planned workouts (e.g., prescribed exercises) has shown more improvement in mental health. Finding more types of exercise that improve mental health allows for greater outreach and improving the mental health of more individuals. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of resistance training in improving depressive symptoms. METHODS: We plan to recruit about 20 male and female participants from Elon University who have not consistently done resistance training (2 times a week for the past 3 months). Through a four-week intervention, participants will perform either a planned workout program or an autonomous workout program three days per week where an exercise log will be kept. The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE), Feeling Scale (FS), and Felt Arousal Scale (FAS) will be self-reported before, during, and after the workouts in the exercise log. Additionally, participants complete the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale and the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21) to evaluate their mental health before the study began, two weeks in, and after the four weeks. A Repeated-Measures Multivariate Analysis of Variance will be used to determine if there are significant differences in mental health over time (pre, during and post intervention). ANTICIPATED RESULTS: We hypothesize that both groups will show improvements in mental health following the intervention, but the autonomous resistance training group will show greater signs of improvement in their depressive symptoms and overall mental health throughout the four-week intervention compared to the planned workout group. We still think that the group that has been prescribed a specific workout program will see an improvement, but it will not be as large as the autonomous group.

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