Physical Therapy Interventions in Patients with Anorexia Nervosa: A Systematic Review Articles uri icon

publication date

  • October 2022

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 13


  • 21, 13921


  • 19

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1661-7827

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1660-4601


  • Objective: Assess the effectiveness of physical therapy, including supervised physical exercise for body mass index (BMI) restoration; improving muscle strength and the psychological, behavioural, cognitive symptoms and quality of life in patients with anorexia nervosa (AN). Methods: A Systematic Review (SR) was conducted in the following scientific databases: Medline, PubMed, PEDro, PsychInfo, Cochrane Library plus, Nursing and Allied Health database, Scopus and Web of Science databases, from inception until November 2021. An assessment of the risk of bias and the certainty of evidence across studies was conducted. Articles were eligible if they followed randomized and non-randomized control trial designs with treatments based on physical therapy or exercise or physical activity in AN patients. Results: 496 records were screened, and after eligibility assessment, 6 studies from 8 articles were finally analysed. The studies, involving 176 AN patient (85.02% of patients), reported improvements in muscle strength, eating behaviour, eating attitude, mood and quality of life. Three studies included nutritional co-interventions and four studies included psychological therapy. None of the studies reported adverse effects. Conclusions: In two of the RCTs included in this SR, strength training and high intensity resistance improved the muscle strength of patients with AN. In addition, in two RCTs, improvements were observed in patients' attitudes towards their bodies after basic body awareness therapy or after full body massage and instruction to relax. In addition, quality of life improved in two studies, with stretching, isometrics, endurance cardiovascular and muscular exercising.


  • Medicine
  • Psychology


  • anorexia nervosa; physical activity; physical therapy modalities; supervised exercise; women┬┐s health