Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2018) 17, 475 - 484

Review article
Efficacy of Exercise Therapy in Persons with Burnout. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Oliver Ochentel , Crystal Humphrey, Klaus Pfeifer
Author Information
Department of Sport Science and Sport, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany

Oliver Ochentel
✉ Department of Sport Science and Sport, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany
Publish Date
Received: 24-04-2018
Accepted: 23-07-2018
Published (online): 14-08-2018
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An increasing amount of scientific work suggests positive effects of exercise-related interventions in patients with burnout. Exercise therapy could therefore be a useful intervention procedure in the treatment of burnout. The aim of this meta-analysis is to examine empirical findings for exercise therapy used to treat burnout in the occupational setting, including the variety of the application and variety of the exercise modality itself. Electronic databases (PubMed, Cochrane Library, Scopus, PubPsych, PsycInfo) were searched (January 2018) for randomized controlled trials reporting on exercise therapy intervention studies in persons with burnout. The burnout scores from the various measurement instruments as well as standardized mean differences (SMDs) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated and seen as the main outcomes and measures. Four out of six studies with a total sample of 248 participants could be used for meta-analysis. A statement on the combined effect size can only be made with caution due to the length of the confidence interval of [-0.41; 0.09]. With an I² value of 0%, no heterogeneity is present in this meta-analysis. Ultimately there was no clear difference found between intervention and control conditions. This paper does not support the widespread assumption that exercise therapy seems to be a successful means to alleviate burnout symptoms. However, the different types of physical activity and treatment modalities used in the included studies impede clear conclusions. Future studies should deal with the specific efficacy of different exercise modalities and their combination with further cognitive behavioural or mindfulness-based interventions.

Key words: physical activity, sports, adults, employment, occupational diseases, occupational health

           Key Points
  • First systematic review and meta-analysis of high quality studies (randomized controlled trials) analysing the state of research in the field of exercise therapy and burnout.
  • This study relativized the view of physical activity as an effective treatment.
  • This study highlights the lack of a stringent intervention concept and the understanding of the underlying mechanisms of action.
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