Researchers discovered that engaging in a fitness program improves psychological well-being and self-confidence in young men diagnosed with hemophilia, according to a new study published in Research and Practice in Thrombosis and Haemostasis.
Studies have shown that physical health can improve mental health. “Contemporary hemophilia care supports physical activity to promote physical fitness and normal neuromuscular development, with attention paid to physical functioning, healthy body weight, and self-esteem,” the research team wrote.
To further investigate the link between physical health and mental well-being in patients with hemophilia, the researchers recruited 19 young men aged between 18 and 25 years with either hemophilia A or B to participate in a fitness program.
The participants were given a Fitbit and free access to a gym. The participants were either assigned a personal trainer or underwent self-training. The 19 young men were asked to complete questionnaires during their gym inductions on their physical activity, self-efficacy, self-esteem, quality of life, and motivations to exercise.
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After a period of 6 months, the researchers conducted a semistructured interview with the participants on their experiences, and participants were asked to fill in the same questionnaires again. Among the 19 participants, 2 were lost to follow-up.
The results demonstrated that in terms of motivation to exercise, there was a shift from the “contemplation” stage to the “action” and “maintenance” stages. The participants reported an improvement in terms of self-esteem. Quality of life was reported as good as baseline did not show significant change during the study.
As for the personal interviews conducted at the end of the study, researchers identified themes of self-confidence, ability, weight loss, becoming fitter, and being “normal.”
“This study has demonstrated the feasibility of a tailored physical training program and suggests that encouraging young men with hemophilia to engage in a physical activity may be associated with improvements in psychological well-being,” Khair et al wrote.
“The improvement we have seen in self-efficacy may be related to the known effect of exercise on reducing pain, helping weight loss, and improving body image.”
Khair K, Holland M, Dodgson S, McLaughlin P, Fletcher S, Christie D. Fitness enhances psychosocial well-being and self-confidence in young men with hemophilia: results from Project GYM. Res Pract Thromb Haemost. Published online November 26, 2021. doi:10.1002/rth2.12622