Physical Activity Preferences and Perceived Barriers to Activity Among Persons With Severe Mental Illness in the United Kingdom

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Psychiatric Services (Impact Factor: 2.41). 04/2007; 58(3):405-8. DOI: 10.1176/
Source: PubMed


This study assessed physical activity interests among psychiatric patients.
A cross-sectional survey of 120 psychiatric patients in the United Kingdom assessed preferences for physical activity, perceived barriers to activity, and other psychosocial factors related to exercise levels.
Compared with the general population, respondents were less active. Respondents reported very little confidence in their ability to exercise when feeling sad or stressed, and they reported low levels of social support toward exercising. Approximately half the respondents or more expressed a belief in the health benefits of exercise, enjoyment of exercise, and a desire to be more active. Walking was the most popular activity, and fatigue and illness were the most common barriers to activity. Equal numbers preferred individual and group activities. A majority agreed that they would exercise more if they talked with an exercise instructor or were advised by their doctor.
Physical activity interventions for the psychiatric population need to bridge the gap between high interest and low uptake through, for example, professional support and enhancing self-efficacy by combating barriers and tailoring to preferences.

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Available from: Michael Ussher, Sep 18, 2014
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    • "It becomes apparent that these maladaptive behaviors contribute to poor health outcomes and reduce cost-effectiveness of therapeutic interventions in BD (Elmslie et al., 2001; Fagiolini et al., 2008; Hong et al., 2011; Sylvia et al., 2013b). Current literature suggests that a better understanding of the attitudes and beliefs of BD patients towards food and exercise would assist health professionals in developing better targeted psychosocial interventions that induce lifestyle changes (Ussher et al., 2007; Van Citters et al., 2010). Although research supporting the potential effectiveness of increased physical activity (Daumit et al., 2013) and optimal nutrition control (Davison and Kaplan, 2011, 2012) is growing (Sarris et al., 2015), the question remains as to whether combining interventions aiming to change lifestyle behaviors as part of a multimodal psychosocial treatment in BD is feasible. "
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    • "Physical disability, medication sideeffects , poor mental health and conflict with health professional appointments were also identified as further barriers to physical activity. These findings are consistent with other research with adults with mental illness (Carpiniello et al. 2013; McDevitt et al. 2006; Ussher et al. 2007) and a study of physical therapists perceptions of barriers to physical activity among persons with schizophrenia (Soundy et al. 2014). Understanding these physical activity barriers may help health professionals to develop strategies that make it easier for their patients to adopt and maintain activity while in hospital. "
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    • "The inverse relationships found between the age of the participants and the perception of accessibility barriers can be explained by the fact that, for older participants, factors that were correlated with accessibility barriers, such as their appraisal of body weight, may be less important. As in other studies (McDevitt et al., 2006; Ussher et al., 2007), the qualitative findings of this study indicate that persons with SMI experience difficulties to becoming involved in physical activities as a result of their mental illness. In addition, the interaction between their mental health and their physical health (e.g. the side effects of medications) and systemic factors in their living situation was illuminated by the participants as barriers to physical activities. "
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