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Mental health providers may want to take a closer look at including exercise in their patients’ treatment plans, a new study suggests.
Researchers asked 295 patients receiving treatment at a mental health clinic whether they wanted to be more physically active and if exercise helped improve their mood and anxiety.
They also asked if patients wanted their therapist to help them become more active. Eighty-five percent said they wanted to exercise more and over 80 percent believed exercise helped improve their moods and anxiety much of the time. Almost half expressed interest in a one-time discussion, with many participants also wanting ongoing advice about physical activity from their mental health provider.
“Physical activity has been shown to be effective in alleviating mild to moderate depression and anxiety,” says Carol Janney, assistant professor of epidemiology at Michigan State University and lead author of the study that appears in General Hospital Psychiatry.
“Current physical activity guidelines advise at least 30 minutes, five days a week to promote mental and physical health, yet many of those surveyed weren’t meeting these recommendations.”
More than half of the participants said mood limited their ability to exercise, which provides an opportunity for physicians and therapists in clinics to offer additional support, Janney says.
“Offering physical activity programs inside the mental health clinics may be one of many patient-centered approaches that can improve the mental and physical health of patients.”