Institute of Sports Science

ImPuls - pilot study: a strong mind through motivation and exercise

Completed pilot study of ImPuls

Between February 2018 and November 2020, the Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy of the Institute of Psychology, conducted an evaluation of ImPuls. The efficacy of ImPuls on global symptom severity and disorders-specific symptoms among a mixed outpatient sample was evaluated in a randomized controlled trial. For background and objectives of this study, see ImPuls - Health Care Research Project). Participants completed a one-year-follow up assessment to evaluate long-term effects of the intervention.

The evaluation was conducted among a sample of 74 individuals (10 groups) who were on waiting lists for psychotherapy, aged between 18 and 65 years. Participants fulfilled at least one of the following ICD-10 diagnoses: acute depression (F32, F33, F34.1), anxiety disorders (F40-F44), insomnia (F51), or AHDS (F90).

Overview of the results

The intervention significantly improved global symptom severity (d=0.77, p=0.007), depression (d=0.68, p=0.02), anxiety (d=0.87, p=0.002), sleep quality (d=0.88, p=0.001), and increased exercise (d=0.82, p<0.0001), compared to the control group. Post-treatment differences between groups were significant for depression (d=0.63, p=0.03), sleep quality (d=0.61, p=0.03) and exercise (d=1.45, p<0.0001). Across both groups, the reduction of global symptom severity was significantly predicted by an increase of exercise (ß=0.35, p=0.01).

The exercise intervention showed therapeutic efficacy across psychiatric disorders and led to sustained exercise behaviour change. Exercise may be a feasible and efficacious transdiagnostic treatment approach within outpatient mental health care settings.

Data from the pilot study are expected to be published in 2021.

Selected publications

Journal articles

  • Zeibig, J.-M., Seiffer, B., Sudeck, G., Rösel, I., Hautzinger, M., & Wolf, S. (2021). Transdiagnostic efficacy of a group exercise intervention for outpatients with heterogenous psychiatric disorders: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Psychiatry, 21(1), 313. doi:10.1186/s12888-021-03307-x 

  • Wolf, S., Zeibig, J.-M., Giel, K., Granz, H., Sudeck, G., & Thiel, A. (2020). Sportliche Aktivität und psychische Erkrankungen. PSYCH up2date, 1–17. doi: 10.1055/a-0973-1982.
  • Wolf, S., Zeibig, J.-M., Giel, K., Granz, H., Sudeck, G., & Thiel, A. (2020). Sportliche Aktivität und psychische Erkrankungen. Psychother Psych Med, 412-428. doi: 10.1055/a-1193-2584.


  • Zeibig, J.-M., Stock, F., Werner, A.-C., Sudeck, G., Hautzinger, M., & Wolf, S. (2018). Eine bewegende Psychotherapiewartezeit. ImPuls –ein verhaltenstherapeutisches Bewegungsprogramm (Vortrag). [Vortrag auf 50. Jahrestagung der Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Sportpsychologie (asp) in Köln]
  • Zeibig, J.-M., Seiffer, B.-A., Sudeck, G., Hautzinger, M., Wolf, S. (2020). Nutzung der Transdiagnostischen Wirksamkeit Sportlicher Aktivität im Psychotherapeutischen Ambulanten Kontext: Evaluation der Sportintervention „ImPuls“ in einer randomisierten kontrollierten Studie. [Online-Vortrag auf der Jahrestagung der Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Sportpsychologie (asp)]


  • Wolf, S., Zeibig, J.-M., Hautzinger, M., & Sudeck, G. (2020). Psychische Gesundheit durch Bewegung. ImPuls: Ein sport- und bewegungstherapeutisches Programm für Menschen mit psychischen Erkrankungen. Weinheim: Julius Beltz GmbH & Co. KG.