, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 269-279
Date: 23 Sep 2012

Therapeutic Impact of Exercise on Psychiatric Diseases

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Abstract

Aerobic exercise seems to be effective in improving general mood and symptoms of depression and anxiety in healthy individuals and psychiatric patients. This effect is not limited to aerobic forms of exercise. There are almost no contraindications for psychiatric patients to participate in exercise programmes, provided they are free from cardiovascular and acute infectious diseases. However, very little is known about the effects of exercise in psychiatric disease other than those in depression and anxiety disorders. A few reports indicate the need for controlled investigations in psychotic and personality disorders.

Unfortunately, no general concept for a therapeutic application of physical activity has been developed so far. Reliance on submaximal measures is highly recommended for fitness assessment. Monitoring of exercise intensity during training sessions is most easily done by measuring the heart rate using portable devices (whereas controlling the exact workload may be preferable for scientific purposes). Appropriate pre- and post-training testing is emphasised to enable adequate determinations of fitness gains and to eventually allow positive feedback to be given to patients in clinical settings.