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Long-term effects of two psychological interventions on physical exercise and self-regulation following coronary rehabilitation

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Falko Sniehotta


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In cardiac rehabilitation programs, patients learn how to adopt a healthier lifestyle, including regular strenuous physical activity. Long-term success is only modest despite good intentions. To improve exercise adherence, a 3-group experiment was designed that included innovative psychological interventions. All 3 groups underwent a standard care rehabilitation program. Patients in the 2 treatment groups were instructed not only to produce detailed action plans but also to develop barrier-focused mental strategies. On top of this, in I of these groups a weekly diary was kept for 6 weeks to increase a sense of action control. At the end of a standard cardiac rehabilitation program, 240 patients were randomly assigned to these treatment groups plus a standard care control group. Treatments resulted in more physical activity at follow-up and better adherence to recommended levels of exercise intensity. Moreover self-regulatory skills such as planning and action control were improved by the treatments. Follow-up analyses demonstrated the mediating mechanisms of self-regulatory skills in the process of physical exercise maintenance. Findings imply that interventions targeting self-regulatory skills can enable postrehabilitation patients to reduce behavioral risk factors and facilitate intended lifestyle changes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sniehotta FF, Scholz U, Schwarzer R, Fuhrmann B, Kiwus U, Voller H

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

Year: 2005

Volume: 12

Issue: 4

Pages: 244-255

Print publication date: 01/01/2005

ISSN (print): 1070-5503

ISSN (electronic): 1532-7558

Publisher: Springer New York LLC