Resistance training enhances muscular performance in patients with anorexia nervosa: A randomized controlled trial




Low-intensity exercise applied in anorexia nervosa patients has been shown to have a harmless effect on body composition and to effect short-term improvements in muscular strength and agility. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of a high-intensity resistance training program designed for adolescents to improve strength and agility in anorexia nervosa restricting-type patients (AN-R).


From a total of 36 female patients with AN-R, one group (intervention, n = 18) underwent a supervised high-intensity resistance training program lasting 8 weeks, and the other group with no exercise (control, n = 18). Body weight, body mass index, whole-body muscular strength, and agility were assessed before, after, and 4 weeks after training (detraining).


Leg-press, bench-press, and lateral row tests improved significantly (p < 0.001) after 8 weeks of training compared with controls. Improvements were maintained after the detraining period. The training program also showed beneficial effects on agility.


A high-intensity resistance training program adapted to the recommendations for adolescents in AN-R patients was effective and safe, improving muscular strength in the whole body and the ability to perform daily tasks. However, long-term maintenance of gains seems to be linked to the continuance of training or the use of a maintenance program. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2014; 47:601–609)