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 quality evidence finds exercise therapy can improve symptoms, particularly negative symptoms, as well as improving quality of life and functioning. Moderate to low quality evidence suggests exercise therapy can also improve depression, anxiety, weight, and cardiometabolic factors.

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

Moderate quality evidence finds no significant differences between mindfulness exercise (yoga or tai chi) and non-mindfulness exercise for mental health or social functioning.

September 2020

Last updated at: 12:47 am, 10th September 2020
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