03/02/2010 - News

Exercise Reduces Anxiety in Patients with Chronic Illness

By: June Chen, MD

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Anxiety is an unpleasant mood characterized by thoughts of worry. If anxiety becomes severe and chronic, it can develop into a debilitating disorder that affects a person’s ability to perform activities of daily living. Anxiety symptoms and disorders are common among people with chronic illness, but it is often overlooked by physician as an expected response to illness so it may go unrecognized and untreated. In the February 22, 2010 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, scientists report that exercise training reduces anxiety symptoms among sedentary patients with chronic illness.

Researchers from the University of Georgia analyzed articles in scholarly journals involving exercise interventions in sedentary adults with chronic illness and anxiety symptoms. The selected studies involved 2914 patients who were assigned to either an exercise intervention of 3 or more weeks or no exercise. The researchers found that exercise training significantly reduced anxiety symptoms. Exercise training programs lasting no more than 12 weeks, with individual sessions of at least 30 minutes, resulted in the largest improvements in anxiety symptoms.

Anxiety symptoms can have a negative impact on treatment outcomes in chronic illness because patients with anxiety may be less likely to comply with prescribed medical treatments. In addition, anxiety can lead to reduced quality of life, increased disability, and more health care visits. Exercise training is a healthy behavior with a low risk of adverse events, and based on the findings of this study, it can be an effective and practical tool for reducing anxiety among patients with chronic illness.

 

Source:

Arch Intern Med. 2010; 170(4): 321-331.

 

Created on: 03/02/2010
Reviewed on: 03/02/2010

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