Exercise Interventions for Mental Health: A Quantitative and Qualitative Review

Clinical Psychology Science and Practice (Impact Factor: 2.92). 05/2006; 13(2):179 - 193. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2850.2006.00021.x

ABSTRACT Associations between exercise and mental well-being have been documented repeatedly over the last two decades. More recently, there has been application of exercise interventions to clinical populations diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and eating disorders with evidence of substantial benefit. Nonetheless, attention to the efficacy of exercise interventions in clinical settings has been notably absent in the psychosocial treatment literature, as have been calls for the integration of these methods within the clinical practice of psychologists. In this article, we provide a quantitative and qualitative review of these efficacy studies in clinical samples and discuss the potential mechanism of action of exercise interventions, with attention to both biological and psychosocial processes. The meta-analysis of 11 treatment outcome studies of individuals with depression yielded a very large combined effect size for the advantage of exercise over control conditions: g = 1.39 (95% CI: .89–1.88), corresponding to a d = 1.42 (95% CI: .92–1.93). Based on these findings, we encourage clinicians to consider the role of adjunctive exercise interventions in their clinical practice and we discuss issues concerning this integration.

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    ABSTRACT: This review summarizes the extant evidence of the effects of exercise training on anxiety among healthy adults, adults with a chronic illness, and individuals diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. A brief discussion of selected proposed mechanisms that may underlie relations of exercise and anxiety is also provided. The weight of the available empirical evidence indicates that exercise training reduces symptoms of anxiety among healthy adults, chronically ill patients, and patients with panic disorder. Preliminary data suggest that exercise training can serve as an alternative therapy for patients with social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and obsessive–compulsive disorder. Anxiety reductions appear to be comparable to empirically supported treatments for panic and generalized anxiety disorders. Large trials aimed at more precisely determining the magnitude and generalizability of exercise training effects appear to be warranted for panic and generalized anxiety disorders. Future well-designed randomized controlled trials should (a) examine the therapeutic effects of exercise training among understudied anxiety disorders, including specific phobias, social anxiety disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder; (b) focus on understudied exercise modalities, including resistance exercise training and programs that combine exercise with cognitive-behavioral therapies; and (c) elucidate putative mechanisms of the anxiolytic effects of exercise training.
    American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine 11/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Exercise can be an effective treatment for depression. Although the efficacy of exercise is well established, little is known concerning the biological changes associated with the antidepressant effects of exercise. A randomized, controlled trial was conducted to evaluate the effects of adding exercise to the usual treatment on the thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances (TBARS) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) serum levels of severely depressed inpatients. Twenty-six participants were randomized to an exercise group (n = 15, exercise + treatment as usual) or a control group (n = 11, treatment as usual). The participants in the exercise group completed a targeted dose of 16.5 kcal/kg/week of aerobic exercise, three times per week, throughout their hospitalizations. The control group did not exercise during their hospitalizations. The mean hospitalization length was of 21.63 (4.5) × 23.82 (5.7) days for exercise and control groups, respectively. The exercise group performed a median of nine sessions. After adjusting for previous tobacco use, a significant group × time interaction was found for TBARS serum levels (p = 0.02). A post hoc Bonferroni test revealed differences between the exercise and control groups at discharge. A significant time effect (p < 0.001) but no group × time interaction was found (p = 0.13) for BDNF serum levels. Adding exercise to the usual treatment of severely depressed inpatients decreases the TBARS serum levels of severely depressed inpatients after 3 weeks. Adding exercise had no additional effects on BDNF serum levels.
    European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience 02/2014; · 2.75 Impact Factor


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May 22, 2014