Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Krista Munroe-Chandler


Distress, Exercise, Mental Health, Physical activity, Well-Being




The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of a six-week exercise program on university students’ mental health outcomes. The participants included 10 individuals enrolled at a Canadian university, representative of a range of educational programs (e.g., education, engineering, science) and varying year of study (first year to graduate studies). Using the Mental Health Inventory-38 (MHI-38) as a measure of Psychological Distress, Psychological Well Being, and overall mental health (Mental Health Index), paired samples t test demonstrated a nonsignificant change in the Mental Health Index scores, t(9) = 0.75, p > .05 and Psychological Well-Being, t(9) = -0.55, p > .05 from pre to post intervention. Due to violations of normality, a Wilcoxon Signed Rank test was used to assess the median scores of Psychological Distress at two time points resulting in a nonsignificant decrease in Psychological Distress z(9) = -1.23, p >.05. Due to a small sample size, low statistical power may have decreased the chances of finding a true effect if in fact present. The length of the program (six weeks), subjective reporting of completion of additional physical activity and intensity, and the time frame in which the program took place may have been factors that lead to the nonsignificant findings. Future researchers should test the effects of longer exercise programs, with a bigger sample, and at varying periods within an academic schedule. Despite the nonsignificant improvements in students’ mental health, it is important to note that their health did not significantly decline over the course of the intervention.