Get access

Exercise interventions for women with anorexia nervosa: A review of the literature


  • None of the authors have any sources of biomedical and commercial financial support or any potential conflicts of interest to disclose.



To identify exercise interventions in the empirical literature to help inform clinical decision making in the treatment of underweight individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) and review any recommended differences in treatment planning for those who excessively exercise and those who do not.


Online search engines and cross-referencing articles identified relevant studies.


Six exercise interventions in clinical settings were reviewed, including three conducted in hospitals. A few studies provided some evidence to support the implementation of moderate physical activity during treatment. Most did not include specific exercise program descriptions. Patient eligibility varied from obligatory for all patients to programs that specified weight requirements.


Few studies have systematically explored exercise as a part of treatment among patients with AN. Findings of the current review suggest a need for developing further research, but currently the field may benefit from standardized guidelines for treating excessive exercisers with AN. © 2010 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2010)