Applied Behavior Analysis allows us to design treatment plans that are designed based
upon the reason the behavior is occurring, the “function” of the behavior.  Too often,
however, we look only at the specific behavior in question, and lose the possible value of
other lifestyle changes.  

Theodore Roosevelt was famous for advocating “the strenuous life,” suggesting that a
vigorously lived life will be a happy life.  He may have been more right than he realized.
According to staff at the Mayo Clinic (2011), adding exercise into a treatment regimen
has been found to be effective for treating several different types of disorders (see also
Daley, 2002).  Pendleton et al. (2002), for example, found that adding exercise to a
cognitive behavioral treatment increased the effectiveness of that cognitive behavioral
treatment in treating binge eating.

There are a variety of theories regarding why this might be the case, ranging from the
neuro-chemical effects of exercise, to changing thinking patterns, to providing much-
needed success experiences, to providing a new and better model to shoot for (e.g.,
rather than seeking to be an unhealthily thin fashion model, seeking to become a well-
conditioned and, by necessity to perform at that level, well-fed athlete).

When appropriate, therefore, treatment should include some time on the jogging trail,
aerobics or yoga studio, or in the weight room.  This may take the form of homework
assignments outside of therapy, a stop smoking program, or may take the form of having
a running/ workout partner who happens to be your therapist.  Our staff includes certified
personal trainers who will be able to assist in this effort.

References

Bauman, A.  (2007).  Outrun anorexia nervosa.  
http://www.runnersworld.
com/cda/microsite/article/0,8029,s6-238-275-0-12210-0,00.html

Daley, A.  (2002).  Exercise therapy and mental health in clinical populations: is exercise
therapy a worthwhile intervention?
Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 8, 262-270.  

Mayo Clinic Staff (2011).        Depression and anxiety:  Exercise eases symptoms.  
http:
//www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression-and-exercise/MH00043

Merom, D., Phongsavan, P., Wagner, R., Chey, T., Marnane, C., Steel, Z., Silove, D., &
Bauman, A.  (2007).  Promoting walking as an adjunct intervention to group cognitive
behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders: A pilot group randomized trial.
Journal of
Anxiety Disorders, 22
(6), 959–968.

O’Connor, P.J., Ragin, J.S., & Martinsen, E.W.  (2000).  Physical activity, anxiety and
anxiety disorders.  
International Journal of Sports Psychology, 31(2), 136-155.

Otto, M. W., Church, T. S., Craft, L.L., et al (2007).  Exercise for mood and anxiety
disorders.
Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 9, 287–294.

Pendleton, V.R., Goodrick, G.K., Poston, W.S., Reeves, R.S., & Foreyt, J.P.  (2002).  
Exercise augments the effects of cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of binge
eating.  
International Journal of Eating Disorders, 31, 172-174.

Sundgot-Borgen, J., Rosenvineg, J.H., Bahr, R. & Schneider, L.S.  (2002).   The effect of
exercise, cognitive therapy, and nutritional counseling in treating bulimia nervosa.
 
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 34
(2), 190-195.
Exercise as an Adjunct to Behavior Therapy in the Treatment of Anxiety,
Depression and Eating Disorders
Room to Grow
the 2012 Long Island marathon.  
Actual chip time a PR 4:12:43.