Pilot study of client outcomes from exercise physiology in a youth mental health service

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The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate the utilisation and experience of an exercise physiology programme, known as Bod Squad at a youth mental health service. Individual sessions were offered in an outpatient setting, while both group and individual sessions occurred in an inpatient unit. This pilot study used a mixed methodology to collect data from young people who attended Bod Squad. A database of exercise physiology records for 47 young people were analysed for attendance and physiological indicators. In addition, 7 semi-structured interviews were conducted with young people to explore their experience of Bod Squad. Young people attended a total of 169 sessions during the programmes tenure, with an overall mean of 3.6 sessions. Pre-post measures for 10 young people (who had attended at least 4 sessions) showed modest average reductions for body mass index, waist circumference, chest circumference and resting heart rate. Five themes emerged from the interviews—(1) My reasons for attending, (2) The social aspect, (3) An individualized approach, (4) Outcomes from Bod Squad and (5) My experience of the service. All of these themes included positive experiences of Bod Squad, which young people perceived as relevant to their needs and helpful to their recovery. These findings are congruent with previous studies that have concluded that exercise physiology may be an effective, acceptable and valued intervention for addressing physical and metabolic health issues for young people.

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