Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fitness Mentor Can Improve Health for Overweight Patients With Serious Mental Illness

An exercise intervention in which overweight patients with serious mental illness were paired with a fitness trainer and given one-year membership in a fitness club achieved clinically significant reduction in cardiovascular risk for almost one-half of participants at 12 months. That was the finding from a study appearing online August 1 in Psychiatric Services.

Researchers at Dartmouth University conducted a randomized controlled trial with 133 individuals with serious mental illness and a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25. The participants were assigned either to the In SHAPE program (one year of weekly sessions with a fitness trainer plus a fitness club membership) or to one year of fitness club membership and education. Assessments were conducted at baseline and three, six, nine, and 12 months later. Although In SHAPE did not contribute to greater mean weight loss or reduction in BMI when compared with fitness club membership and education, at 12-month follow-up the intervention was associated with three times greater fitness club attendance, twice as much participation in physical exercise, greater engagement in vigorous physical activity, and improvement in diet. Twice the proportion of participants (40% versus 20%) achieved clinically significant improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness.

“The results of this study suggest that integrated provision of a fitness program that includes a health mentor as a component of community mental health services is feasible and associated with clinically significant reduction in cardiovascular risk,” the researchers said. “…It is likely that individually tailored health promotion interventions will be needed to optimize outcomes.”

For more information about fitness and serious mental illness, see Psychiatric News here.


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