Precision-based exercise in people with anxiety and stress related disorders: are there interindividual differences in anxiolytic effects? An ancillary meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Davy Vancampfort, Andreas Heissel, Aline Waclawovsky, Brendon Stubbs, Joseph Firth, Ryan McGrath, Tine Van Damme, Felipe Schuch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Interest in the individualized responses to exercise has been growing within mental health care and psychiatry. This meta-analysis examined if true interindividual differences (IIDs) in anxiolytic effects of exercise exist among adults with anxiety- and stress-related disorders. Data were extracted from a previous meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and searches in CINAHL, Embase and Medline were updated (8 arms from 7 original studies, n participants=322). Change outcome standard deviations treated as point estimates for anxiety were extracted to calculate true IIDs. Inverse variance heterogeneity and restricted maximum likelihood models were used. Aerobic exercise and resistance training showed significant anxiolytic effects. No significant pooled IIDs were found for aerobic exercise nor resistance training demonstrating that there is currently a lack of convincing evidence to support the notion that true IIDs exist for the anxiolytic effects of exercise among adults with anxiety- and stress-related disorders. Consequently, clinical practice can focus on general population physical activity guidelines for patients with anxiety- and stress-related disorders rather than aiming for highly specific, individualized recommendations. Future research could prioritize investigating how to motivate patients with anxiety- and stress-related disorders to meet general population physical activity guidelines.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114803
JournalPsychiatry Research
Volume317
Early online date2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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