Exercise Found to Decrease Anxiety in Chronic Illness

Systematic review offers physicians solid evidence to recommend exercise training to patients

TUESDAY, Feb. 23 (HealthDay News) -- In physically inactive patients with chronic conditions, exercise training may significantly reduce anxiety, according to a systematic review published in the Feb. 22 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Matthew P. Herring, of the University of Georgia in Athens, and colleagues reviewed 40 studies that measured anxiety at baseline and after patients were randomly assigned to either an exercise intervention of at least three weeks or no exercise.

Compared to no exercise, the researchers found that exercise was associated with significantly reduced anxiety symptoms (mean effect size, 0.29). They also found that factors associated with the greatest improvements included exercise training programs lasting no more than 12 weeks, session durations of at least 30 minutes, and an anxiety report time frame greater than the past week.

"The present results provide clinicians with solid evidence to recommend exercise training to patients as a means for reducing anxiety symptoms with minimal risk of adverse events," the authors conclude. "Exercise training may be especially useful for patients who prefer non-pharmacologic treatments because such preferences may influence the magnitude of the treatment outcomes."

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