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Exercise and physical activity in mental disorders

Abstract

Exercise (EX) and physical activity (PA) have been shown to prevent or delay the onset of several mental disorders and to have therapeutic effects in different groups of psychiatric disorders. This review focuses on studies investigating EX as therapeutic intervention in anxiety disorders, affective disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and substance use disorders. Despite EX being discussed as a potential therapy for several decades, adequately powered randomized, controlled trials are sparse in most disorder groups. Nevertheless, evidence points toward disorder-specific benefits that can be induced by EX/PA. Mechanisms of the therapeutic effects of EX/PA are summarized, including metabolic and physiological as well as psychological aspects. Finally, implications for research and therapeutic practice are illustrated.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

This supplement was not sponsored by outside commercial interests. It was funded by the German Association for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (DGPPN).

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Correspondence to Elisabeth Wolff.

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Wolff, E., Gaudlitz, K., von Lindenberger, BL. et al. Exercise and physical activity in mental disorders. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 261, 186 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00406-011-0254-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00406-011-0254-y

Keywords

  • Exercise
  • Physical activity
  • Mental disorders
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Therapy
  • Review