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Ment Health Phys Act. 2014 Sep;7(3):147-151. Epub 2014 Sep 4.

Gender moderates the effect of exercise on anxiety sensitivity.

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Department of Psychology, Institute for Mental Health Research, University of Texas at Austin, USA.
Department of Psychology, Southern Methodist University, USA.
Department of Psychology, Boston University, USA.


A moderate to vigorous intensity exercise program is emerging as a promising strategy for reducing anxiety sensitivity (AS). Initial evidence suggests that the effects of exercise on mental health outcomes may vary as a function of gender, with men benefitting more than women. Building upon this evidence, the present study tested the hypothesis that the effect of exercise on AS would vary as a function of gender, such that the effect would be stronger for men than for women. We tested this hypothesis using the data from a published study (Smits, Berry, Rosenfield, et al., 2008). In this study, participants (N = 60) with elevated levels of AS were randomly assigned to a two-week exercise intervention [EX] or a waitlist control condition [WL]. Results revealed that males showed significantly greater initial AS reductions relative to females (following 1 week of exercise). However, these gender differences were no longer evident at the end of the intervention. Possible mechanisms for the observed findings and directions for future research are discussed.


Anxiety; Anxiety sensitivity; Exercise; Gender differences; Treatment moderators; Treatment outcome

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