Which activity modifications are used in the treatment of anorexia nervosa?

Updated: Jun 10, 2019
  • Author: Bettina E Bernstein, DO; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Limited physical activity (eg, sports, exercise classes) is recommended. By limiting activity, energy expenditure is limited, thus assuring a balanced weight. Moreover, without structure, patients may exercise in potentially harmful ways and at very high intensities. Limitation of activity may also motivate the patient to maintain healthy eating habits in order to ensure a rapid return to favorite activities. Note that the disadvantage of curtailing activity is the removal of the patient's coping mechanism to deal with stress.

Anorexia nervosa is based on caloric restriction and increased caloric expenditure that leads to excess exercise to control weight. Previous studies have described the use of exercise programs for hospitalized inpatients in which exercise was exchanged for weight gain and compliance. However, no guidelines were set forth in terms of type, intensity, and duration of exercise.

Thien et al looked at a standard program designed for outpatient use, graduated in type of exercise, duration, and level of activity, and demonstrated that both the exercise and the control groups in the study achieved increases in BMI and body fat percentage. However, quality of life was increased in the exercise group, whereas the control group showed a decrease in all aspects of quality-of-life measures, although the difference was not statistically significant. [128]

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