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Pilates and aerobic training improve levels of depression, anxiety and quality of life in overweight and obese individuals

It is common knowledge that exercise can play an important role in treating the physical parts of obesity, however the emotional benefits are less often talked about. In this study, published by the Brazilian journal Arquivos de Neuro-Psiquiatria  63 overweight or obese patients were randomly split into 3 groups, a control group (n=20), a Pilates group (n=22) and a walking group (n=21).  The two exercise groups had to complete three, 60-minute sessions per week of their exercise. There were three psychological assessments conducted on each patient looking at quality of life, depression, state-anxiety and trait-anxiety. These were conducted before and after the 8 weeks.

The Walking group showed improvements in the quality of life domains of social functioning (20.3%) and mental health (21.8%). In addition, there were significant decreases in the levels of depression (35.2%), trait-anxiety (15.1%), and state-anxiety (18.5%).

For the Pilates group, improvements were observed in the quality of life domains of vitality (28%), social functioning (29.2%) and mental health (19%). In addition, there were significant decreases in the levels of depression (27.5%) and trait-anxiety (14.1%).

In some patients with obesity, emotional malfunction seems to inhibit the positive perception of the physical benefits of exercise. An alternative approach could point towards the mental and emotional benefits of exercise; this may be the trigger/motivator for people’s perception of physical activity programs to change and thus be taken up more enthusiastically.

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