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Physical exercise through mountain hiking in high‐risk suicide patients. A randomized crossover trial

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Abstract:

Sturm J, Plöderl M, Fartacek C, Kralovec K, Neunhäuserer D, Niederseer D, Hitzl W, Niebauer J, Schiepek G, Fartacek R. Physical exercise through mountain hiking in high‐risk suicide patients. A randomized crossover trial.

Objective:  The following crossover pilot study attempts to prove the effects of endurance training through mountain hiking in high‐risk suicide patients.

Method:  Participants (n = 20) having attempted suicide at least once and clinically diagnosed with hopelessness were randomly distributed among two groups. Group 1 (n = 10) began with a 9‐week hiking phase followed by a 9‐week control phase. Group 2 (n = 10) worked vice versa. Assessments included the Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Beck Scale of Suicide Ideation (BSI), and maximum physical endurance.

Results:  Ten participants of Group 1 and seven participants of Group 2 completed the study. A comparison between conditions showed that, in the hiking phase, there was a significant decrease in hopelessness (P < 0.0001, d = −1.4) and depression (P < 0.0001, d = −1.38), and a significant increase in physical endurance (P < 0.0001, d = 1.0), but no significant effect for suicide ideation (P = 0.25, d = −0.29). However, within the hiking phase, there was a significant decrease in suicide ideation (P = 0.005, d = −0.79).

Conclusion:  The results suggest that a group experience of regular monitored mountain hiking, organized as an add‐on therapy to usual care, is associated with an improvement of hopelessness, depression, and suicide ideation in patients suffering from high‐level suicide risk.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0447.2012.01860.x

Affiliations: 1: Suicide Prevention Research Program, Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg, Salzburg 2: Institute of Sports Medicine, Prevention and Rehabilitation, Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg, Salzburg 3: Biostatistics, Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria 4: Institute of Synergetics and Psychotherapy Research, Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg, Salzburg

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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