Strength Training or Yoga for AN Patients?

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
March/April 2005 Volume 16, Number 2
©2005 Gürze Books

Patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) often have low bone density and an increased risk of fractures. Moderate weight-bearing exercises can help protect bones in anorexic patients and can also help increase muscle mass and strength in these patients. At the same time, many eating disorders centers, such as Monte Nido in Malibu, CA, offer yoga classes for patients recovering from anorexia nervosa. Patients report that the yoga exercises have a calming and centering effect.

Susan Gritzner, C. Laird Birmingham, and Alexina Alexander, of St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver, Canada, recently designed a randomized study to compare a graduated strength- training program to a standard yoga program in patients recovering from AN during nutritional recovery. As they reported at the annual meeting of the Eating Disorders Research Society in Amsterdam last fall, they hypothesize that those who take the strength-training program will have increased bone density and lean body mass, while members of the other group will not have any noticeable changes in bone density of body mass. While the primary outcome measures will be bone density and body composition, the researchers will also be evaluating strength, flexibility, and quality of life.

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