Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Exercise Regimen Shows Benefit in Schizophrenia Patients

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Exercise Regimen Shows Benefit in Schizophrenia Patients

Article excerpt

Regular exercise may help ease some symptoms of schizophrenia, including anxiety and depression, and should be recommended to patients with the disease, according to a literature review published May 12 in the Cochrane Library.

For their review, doctoral candidate Paul Gorczynski and Guy Faulkner, Ph.D., of the University of Toronto's exercise psychology unit, sought to determine whether regular exercise programs resulted in measurable physical and mental health changes for people with schizophrenia.

Though people with schizophrenia have the same physical health needs as the rest of the population, they are more likely to be sedentary, and find themselves at risk for a host of "chronic medical conditions associated with inactivity," the researchers wrote.

They also cited earlier research and reviews (including some authored or coauthored by Dr. Faulkner), suggesting that exercise may alleviate some of the negative mental symptoms associated with schizophrenia, including anxiety, depression, and social withdrawal. There is less evidence, they wrote, to suggest that exercise has any effect on the positive symptoms of the disease, such as auditory hallucinations.

The investigators initially identified 442 studies investigating some aspect of the relationship between schizophrenia and exercise; however, all but 21 of these were excluded from further consideration because of a nonrandomized design, incomplete data, or the fact that exercise was not the only variable (some studies looked at programs incorporating both music and exercise).

In the end, the authors identified only three randomized controlled trials that had met their inclusion criteria (Issues Ment. Health Nurs. 2005;26:661-76; Acta Psychiatr. Scand. 2007;116:226-32; Ment. Health Phys. Act. 2009;2:29-36). None of the trials were double blinded, and all compared exercise interventions (a walking program, a jogging program, and an aerobics and weight training program, respectively) for people with diagnosed schizophrenia with standard care or, in the case of the jogging program, compared with patients undergoing a yoga intervention.

Programs lasted from 12 to 16 weeks and took place at residential or hospital outpatient centers. In all three trials, samples were small, enrolling between 10 and 61 participants. …

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