Expert Commentary

Immediate Benefits of a Brief 10-Minute Exercise Protocol in a Chronic Pain Population: A Pilot Study

Amy Burleson Sullivan, PsyD

Neurological Institute
The Cleveland Clinic Foundation
Cleveland, OH


Chronic pain is frequency accompanied by profound physical deconditioning, resulting in decreased tolerance to exercise, increased fatigue, and greater healthcare costs. This relationship is mediated in part by the fear-avoidance model wherein dysfunctional beliefs about pain lead patients to refrain from physical and social activities. Such responses not only negatively affect physical functioning but also prevent patients from experiencing exercise-associated benefits in mood, a particularly troubling issue for those with comorbid pain and depression. A number of studies have demonstrated that physical activity improves overall conditioning, function, and affective symptoms, although most interventions were delivered over extended periods of time. Here Dr Sullivan discusses the potential for immediate antidepressant and anxiolytic effects of a brief reconditioning exercise program, free of socialization variables that have confounded previous studies.


  1. Sullivan AB, Covington E, Scheman J. Immediate benefits of a brief 10-minute exercise protocol in a chronic pain population: a pilot study. Pain Med. 2010;11:524-529.
  2. Schwenk TL, Gorenflo DW, Dopp RR, Hipple E. Depression and pain in retired professional football players. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007;39:599-605.
  3. Vlaeyen JW, Linton SJ. Fear-avoidance and its consequences in chronic musculoskeletal pain: a state of the art. Pain. 2000;85:317-332.
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