Exercise Interventions for Mental Health: A Quantitative and Qualitative Review
Article first published online: 30 MAY 2006
Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice
Volume 13, Issue 2, pages 179–193, May 2006
How to Cite
Stathopoulou, G., Powers, M. B., Berry, A. C., Smits, J. A. J. and Otto, M. W. (2006), Exercise Interventions for Mental Health: A Quantitative and Qualitative Review. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 13: 179–193. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2850.2006.00021.x
- Issue published online: 30 MAY 2006
- Article first published online: 30 MAY 2006
- Received August 23, 2005; revised January 9, 2006; accepted February 13, 2006.
- eating disorders;
Associations between exercise and mental well-being have been documented repeatedly over the last two decades. More recently, there has been application of exercise interventions to clinical populations diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and eating disorders with evidence of substantial benefit. Nonetheless, attention to the efficacy of exercise interventions in clinical settings has been notably absent in the psychosocial treatment literature, as have been calls for the integration of these methods within the clinical practice of psychologists. In this article, we provide a quantitative and qualitative review of these efficacy studies in clinical samples and discuss the potential mechanism of action of exercise interventions, with attention to both biological and psychosocial processes. The meta-analysis of 11 treatment outcome studies of individuals with depression yielded a very large combined effect size for the advantage of exercise over control conditions: g = 1.39 (95% CI: .89–1.88), corresponding to a d = 1.42 (95% CI: .92–1.93). Based on these findings, we encourage clinicians to consider the role of adjunctive exercise interventions in their clinical practice and we discuss issues concerning this integration.