Exercise therapy

How is exercise beneficial for people with schizophrenia?

Individuals with serious mental illnesses are more likely to be sedentary than the general population and are consequently at high risk for chronic medical conditions associated with inactivity. Physical activity reduces the risk of these medical conditions, and positive psychological effects have also been reported, including improved quality of life. Exercise also has the potential to alleviate secondary symptoms including depression, low self-esteem and social withdrawal.

What is the evidence for exercise?

Moderate to high quality evidence suggests exercise therapy can improve symptoms of schizophrenia, quality of life and functioning. Moderate to low quality evidence suggests exercise therapy can also improve depression and anxiety.

High quality evidence suggests exercise therapy can improve cognition, in particular working memory, attention and social cognition. More minutes per week of exercise supervised by a physical activity professional is associated with the greatest benefit.

Physical activity in general shows benefits for weight loss and preventing weight gain, and when combined with diet counselling, it may also have cardiometabolic benefits for people with schizophrenia.

March 2019

Last updated at: 3:23 am, 13th March 2019
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