Issue addressed: To assess the effectiveness of a walking program in a psychiatric in-patient unit.
Method: In-patients at a private psychiatric unit were offered the opportunity to participate in a daily morning 40- minute walk led by an activity supervisor. After discharge, outcomes for patients who had regularly participated in the walking group (n=35) and patients who had not participated (n=49) were compared for length of stay during their period of admission and Clinical Global Impression-Severity (CGI-S) and Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) scores measured at admission and discharge. This was a retrospective analysis of data collected routinely.
Results: There were no significant differences between the two cohorts on most primary outcome measures, including length of stay, DASS scores at admission and at discharge and CGI-S scores at admission. Patients who had not participated in the walking group had a significantly lower score on a single measure, the CGI-S, than patients who had participated (p=0.001).
Conclusions: This study showed no evidence that in-patients benefited from participating in the physical activity program. However, this must be interpreted within the confines of a number of study limitations and, as such, the findings can neither support nor refute the effectiveness of physical activities.