Richard G. Petty, MD

Motivational Interviewing and Exercise

Researchers from Germany have
re-visited the interesting topic of the association between aerobic
exercise and psychiatric disorders, and presented their work in a
poster (NR20) at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric
Association in San Diego, California, this morning.
There is good evidence
that exercise can help people with depressive and some other
psychiatric disorders. Unfortunately, like everyone else, people with
psychiatric problems have trouble in developing regular exercise habits
or staying with the program. The mood problem itself may stop them, or
the physical pain that so often accompanies depression.

223 people were screened at the time of admission to hospital and 82
decided to participate. That is a disappointing but unsurprising rate
of participation. The patients were offered a three-month
running/walking program that they could continue after discharge. They
all had weekly meetings that included exercise-related psychoeducation,
stretching and 40-50 minutes of aerobic exercise.

In addition the experimental group received brief interventions using motivational interviewing,
a specific technique to foster changes in behavior. Motivational
interviewing is a client-centered non-judgmental and
non-confrontational appraoch to change that attempts to increase
peoples’ awareness of the potential
problems caused, consequences experienced and risks faced as a result
of the behavior in question. Alternatively, therapists help clients
to try and envision a better future and to become increasingly
motivated to achieve
it. These strategies seeks to help clients think differently
about their behavior and ultimately to consider what might be gained
through change.

In people who had the motivational interviewing, the completer rate
was 78%, compared with 33% in the control group who just had the
psychoeducation, stretching and exercise.

The patients’ initial self-assessments concerning the importance and
efficacy of regular exercise for their individual recovery did not
predict compliance.

This confirms that motivational interviewing is highly effect in
helping people with mental illness initiate and continue with a regular
exercise program.

This new research adds to a body of evidence that has shown that motivational interviewing can be helpful in the treatment of obesity, weight management in women with type 2 diabetes, exercise in women with fibromyalgia, quality of life in people with chronic heart failure and physical exercise in long-term cancer survivors.

It may also be very helpful in people who need to exercise yet have no psychiatric problems: any of us!

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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