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Exercise in the Treatment of Eating Disorders

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Exercise is not a standard adjunct treatment for people suffering from eating disorders, as it is mainly viewed as a part of the pathology or as a method of weight loss for a proportion of this population. Without further evidence, reframing physical activity in terms of how it benefits patients will be a challenge for clinicians. In this study, records on equine activity (the most commonly used exercise component) at a residential treatment facility for eating disorders were examined to determine type, duration, and intensity of physical activities, as well as perceived psychological well-being. Patient demographics and clinical instrument scores provided further data to explore how this physical activity was associated with clinical outcomes. This study suggests that this type of exercise was not detrimental in the treatment of eating disorders. Study findings may help clinicians to identify those patients who would benefit the most from physical activities. Furthermore, the positive association of physical activity with improved mood and eating disorder symptoms adds to the literature on the role of exercise in eating disorders intervention.
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Keywords: adjunct and complementary treatments; eating disorders; equine-assisted activities; exercise; metabolic equivalent intensities (METS)

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-07-01

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  • Best Practices in Mental Health is a premier, peer-reviewed journal that represents the highest quality scholarship in the field of mental health. With a new format and a broader scope, BMPH is an excellent resource that provides an interdisciplinary and evidence-based focus for its audience of mental health educators and practitioners. Coeditors Vikki Vandiver and Kevin Corcoran are at the helm of curating new research from recognized experts on established best practices and from leaders in emerging best practices. The hand-picked editorial board ensures the journal keeps with National Institute of Mental Health's (NIMH) priority to promote the integration of technology, replicate and improve promising practices, and continue to provide diverse and enlightening perspectives that allow readers to remain engaged with the best research available in the mental health field.
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