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Mastery of physical goals lessens disease-related depression and fatigue
Date:12/15/2009

CHAMPAIGN, lll. Physical activity is known to reduce depression and fatigue in people struggling with chronic illness. A new study indicates that this effect stems from an individual's sense of mastery over or belief in his or her ability to achieve certain physical goals.

The study appears in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

"We base our arguments on fatigue being a symptom of depression," said Edward McAuley, a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois and lead author of the study. "Interventions to reduce depression have consistently resulted in reductions in fatigue. The opposite is not always the case."

Depression and fatigue also are highly susceptible to changes in a person's sense of his or her ability to achieve certain goals. This belief in one's own abilities is called self-efficacy, McAuley said. The conviction that you can jog down the block or climb several flights of stairs without stopping is an example of self-efficacy.

Previous studies have shown that increases in physical activity increase self-efficacy. The effect is almost immediate, McAuley said.

"The evidence is monumental that physical activity has some effect on well-being," McAuley said. "The question is: Why?" He and his colleagues wanted to determine whether self-efficacy plays a significant role in the sequence that leads from physical activity to reduced depression and fatigue.

"Our argument was that physically active individuals would have higher self-efficacy, which in turn would result in reduced depression and reduced fatigue," McAuley said.

To test this hypothesis, the researchers reanalyzed data from two previously published studies, the first involving breast-cancer survivors and the second focusing on individuals diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Both studies included self-report questionnaires, but the second used different measures of health status, physical a
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Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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