Exercise Prescription Practices to Improve Mental Health.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

OBJECTIVE: There is growing evidence that higher levels of physical activity are associated with better mental health. Furthermore, interventional studies have shown that exercise may improve symptoms in a number of psychiatric conditions. Despite this evidence, relatively little information is available about how these findings have been translated into clinical practice. The goal of this study was to characterize the exercise prescribing practices of health care providers from different subspecialties and evaluate factors that may influence their prescribing practices. METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional survey among faculty and staff from a large academic tertiary care medical center in the southeastern United States. Participants were invited to complete the survey via email or departmental newsletters. Descriptive statistics were used to characterize the sample and ordered logistic regression was used to analyze practices about exercise as a therapy for psychiatric illness. RESULTS: A total of 185 respondents completed the survey. More than half of the providers (58%) reported that they regularly recommend exercise as part of the treatment for patients with psychiatric conditions; however, few providers offered specific exercise instructions (24%) or followed national guidelines (30%). Depression (84.9%) and anxiety (69.2%) were the most common indications for exercise prescription, while insufficient knowledge or training was the most common barrier to prescribing exercise. We also found significant differences in prescription practices depending on the providers' formal clinical degree and their reported personal exercise habits. CONCLUSIONS: Exercise is recognized by most clinicians as a therapeutic option for psychiatric conditions. Despite this recognition, only a small proportion provide recommendations consistent with national guidelines or empirical research.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Escobar-Roldan, ID; Babyak, MA; Blumenthal, JA

Published Date

  • July 28, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 27 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 273 - 282

PubMed ID

  • 34398577

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1538-1145

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/PRA.0000000000000554


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States