Be brave, BE-FIT! A pilot investigation of an ACT-informed exposure intervention to reduce exercise fear-avoidance in older adults

Samantha G. Farris, Mindy M. Kibbey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Exercise sensitivity, fear of physical sensations of exertion, is particularly elevated in individuals with cardiovascular disease and can promote fear-avoidance of physical activity. We developed an ACT-informed exposure intervention to target exercise sensitivity, called Behavioral Exposure For Interoceptive Tolerance (BE-FIT). In this Stage I pilot trial, we developed and evaluated the feasibility, safety, and initial efficacy of BE-FIT in low active patients with elevated exercise sensitivity enrolled in outpatient cardiac rehabilitation. BE-FIT is a 6-session, manualized, program-adjunctive treatment delivered during the initial weeks of cardiac rehabilitation and involves exposure to feared bodily sensations and exercise situations, bolstered by acceptance and values-focused processes. Patients (Mage = 70.7 years) were assigned to BE-FIT (n = 12) or an activity monitoring-only control (n = 7). Patients in the BE-FIT condition reported high satisfaction, completed 100% of sessions, and 86.3% (SD = 16.4%) of homework exposures. There were no adverse events reported. BE-FIT produced large-sized effects on reductions in exercise sensitivity and increases in both average steps/day and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) mins/day, from baseline to end-of-treatment. In contrast, the monitoring-only cohort evidenced small-sized reductions in exercise sensitivity and no change in average steps/day or MVPA mins/day. BE-FIT is safe, feasible, acceptable with promising findings from this Stage I trial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-294
Number of pages22
JournalCognitive Behaviour Therapy
Volume51
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology

Keywords

  • Exercise sensitivity
  • acceptance and commitment therapy
  • interoceptive exposure
  • kinesiophobia

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