The Freiburg sport therapy program for eating disordered outpatients: a pilot study

  • Sabine Schlegel
  • Armin Hartmann
  • Reinhard Fuchs
  • Almut Zeeck
Original Article



Many patients with anorexia or bulimia nervosa use physical activity as a method to influence weight and shape and/or exercise in a compulsive manner. This form of exercising is associated with a more severe illness and higher relapse rates. In a proof-of-concept study, effects of a newly developed sport therapy program aiming to reduce unhealthy exercising were assessed.


Thirty-six patients with eating disorders took part in four group terms of the program, each lasting 3 months. They were compared to a matched control group. Main outcome criterion was a reduction in the total score of the commitment to exercise scale (CES).


In the completer analysis, we found statistically significant reductions in the CES total score over time (time × group; p = 0.003) and significant improvements in overall eating psychopathology and quality of life (pre → post). The dropout rate was high (34 %), mainly due to external reasons (time schedule, etc.).


Findings point to specific effects of a newly developed outpatient sport therapy program for eating disorders. Detailed assessments of patients before assigning them to the program will be necessary to reduce dropout rates. The next step has to be a randomized controlled study.


Eating disorders Excessive exercising Outcome Physical activity Intervention 


Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional ethical committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabine Schlegel
    • 1
  • Armin Hartmann
    • 1
  • Reinhard Fuchs
    • 2
  • Almut Zeeck
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and PsychotherapyUniversity Medical Center FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Sport Psychology, Institute for Sport and Sport-SciencesUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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