University of Bedfordshire to explore impact of exercise in treating depression in teenagers Image By AdobeStock_201434220

The READY Trial’s initial research is with young people in the East of England

A collaborative research team led by the University of Hertfordshire along with the University of Bedfordshire, University of East Anglia, Norwich Clinical Trials Unit, local mental trusts and sports partnerships have won a £2.27m contract from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to investigate if exercise is a beneficial treatment for mild to moderate depression in young people aged 13-17.

The multi-disciplinary research trial will include health, psychology, and exercise researchers and practitioners from the School of Life and Medical Sciences and the School of Health and Social Work (University of Hertfordshire), the Research Centre for Health, Wellbeing and Behaviour Change (University of Bedfordshire), Norwich Clinical Trials Unit and the University of East Anglia.

Research co-applicant from the University of Bedfordshire, Dr Angel Chater, reader in Health Psychology and Behaviour Change and lead for the Research Centre for Health, Wellbeing and Behaviour Change, said:

“This is a fantastic opportunity to enhance our understanding of whether exercise can benefit young people’s mental health.

“We will look not only at the benefits of exercise, but what motivates young people to engage in such programmes, what barriers they need help in overcoming and how we can best support adherence to, enjoyment of and social support through exercise.”

The READY Trial (Randomised trial of Energetic Activity for Depression in Young people) will commence with an initial research study with young people in the East of England region. It will be followed by a nationwide trial involving more than 1,000 young people starting in 2021.

The study will compare the benefit of exercise for young people living with depression participating in either a high intensity, or low intensity group exercise sessions, with spending time non-active with a group of their peers.

Principal Research Clinical Psychologist for the Children, Family and Young People’s Mental Health Service, Dr Tim Clarke from Norfolk, said:

“This is a great opportunity to explore an intervention that expands traditional offers of support for young people with low mood and could potentially improve provision and increase access to evidence based interventions.”


University of Hertfordshire

Dr Daksha Trivedi, & Dr David Wellsted, Joint leads

Dr Lindsay Bottoms, exercise physiologist

Dr Lee David, academic GP & visiting fellow

Dr Julia Jones, Patient & Public Involvement

Dr Silvana Mengoni, Process evaluation

Dr Neil Howlett, exercise, behaviour change, psychology

Dr Shivani Sharma, Health inequalities

Ms Solange Wyatt, Clinical Trials Support Network


Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust

Dr Mirza Kah, Consultant Psychiatrist


University of Bedfordshire

Dr Angel Chater, Health Psychologist; Centre for Health, Wellbeing and Behaviour Change


Norfolk & Suffolk Foundation Trust

Dr Jonathan Wilson, Consultant psychiatrist

Dr Tim Clarke, Research clinical psychologist


University of East Anglia

Dr Allan Clark, Norwich Clinical Trials Unit

Prof Andrew Jones, Public health, exercise

Dr Jamie Murdoch, Process evaluation

Dr Erika Sims, Norwich Clinical Trials Unit

Prof Ann Marie Swart, Director Norwich Clinical Trials Unit

David Turner, Health Economics


Community sports providers

Andrew Garlick, Watford Football Club Community Sports and Education Trust

Stevie Bramble, Norwich City Community Sports Foundation