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Effects of exercise on symptoms of anxiety, cognitive ability and sick leave in patients with anxiety disorders in primary care: study protocol for PHYSBI, a randomized controlled trial

Journal article
Authors Jenny Nyberg
Malin Henriksson
N David Åberg
Alexander Wall
Robert Eggertsen
M. Westerlund
Louise Danielsson
Hans-Georg Kuhn
Margda Waern
Maria A I Åberg
Published in BMC Psychiatry
Volume 19
Issue 1
Pages 172+
ISSN 1471-244X
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Health and Rehabilitation
Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience
Institute of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition
Pages 172+
Language en
Keywords (n=3-10), Anxiety, Exercise, Cognitive function, Dose-response, Intervention, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, fitness, population, therapy, risk, Psychiatry
Subject categories Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


BackgroundAnxiety disorders are common and associated with reduced quality of life, impaired physical and mental health and an increased economic burden for society. While evidence exists for the effectiveness of exercise treatment for depression, there is a need for high-quality randomized clinical trials (RCT) with a focus on anxiety disorders. Further research is also warranted regarding outcomes of cognitive function, other health-related variables, dose-response effects, work ability and potential mechanisms.Method/designUsing a parallel, RCT design with three assessment points (baseline, post-intervention and one-year follow-up), we aim to assess the effect of a 12-week exercise intervention in primary care patients with anxiety disorders (n=180), diagnosed using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (M.I.N.I; Swedish version 6.0.0d DSM-IV). Participants are randomly assigned to three physical exercise groups: one low-intensity training group, one moderate- to high intensity training group and one control non-exercise group. Assessments include measures of anxiety symptoms, cognitive function, physical health variables such as cardiovascular fitness, sick-leave and levels of hormones/cytokines in blood samples.DiscussionFindings from this study will provide novel insights regarding the effects of exercise treatment on not only anxiety symptoms but also other outcomes including mental and physical health, cognitive function, dose-response effects, work ability/sick leave and on biomarkers that may help explain underlying mechanisms.Trial registrationThe trial was registered at NCT03247270 August 8, 2017.

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