Researchers from Germany have
re-visited the interesting topic of the association between aerobic
exercise and psychiatric disorders, and presented their work in a
poster (NR20) at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric
Association in San Diego, California, this morning.
There is good evidence that exercise can help people with depressive and some other psychiatric disorders. Unfortunately, like everyone else, people with psychiatric problems have trouble in developing regular exercise habits or staying with the program. The mood problem itself may stop them, or the physical pain that so often accompanies depression.
223 people were screened at the time of admission to hospital and 82 decided to participate. That is a disappointing but unsurprising rate of participation. The patients were offered a three-month running/walking program that they could continue after discharge. They all had weekly meetings that included exercise-related psychoeducation, stretching and 40-50 minutes of aerobic exercise.
In addition the experimental group received brief interventions using motivational interviewing, a specific technique to foster changes in behavior. Motivational interviewing is a client-centered non-judgmental and non-confrontational appraoch to change that attempts to increase peoples' awareness of the potential problems caused, consequences experienced and risks faced as a result of the behavior in question. Alternatively, therapists help clients to try and envision a better future and to become increasingly motivated to achieve it. These strategies seeks to help clients think differently about their behavior and ultimately to consider what might be gained through change.
In people who had the motivational interviewing, the completer rate was 78%, compared with 33% in the control group who just had the psychoeducation, stretching and exercise.
The patients’ initial self-assessments concerning the importance and efficacy of regular exercise for their individual recovery did not predict compliance.
This confirms that motivational interviewing is highly effect in helping people with mental illness initiate and continue with a regular exercise program.
This new research adds to a body of evidence that has shown that motivational interviewing can be helpful in the treatment of obesity, weight management in women with type 2 diabetes, exercise in women with fibromyalgia, quality of life in people with chronic heart failure and physical exercise in long-term cancer survivors.
It may also be very helpful in people who need to exercise yet have no psychiatric problems: any of us!