The therapeutic value of physical exercise for people with schizophrenia
background Only about 25% of people with schizophrenia follow the public health recommendations for a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate physical exercise. In their leisure time people diagnosed with schizophrenia take considerably less exercise than their healthy counterparts.
aim To collect scientific evidence of movement-related interventions in patients with schizophrenia.
method PubMed, pedro, cinahl, Psychinfo and Sport Discus were searched for the period from 2003 up to April 2009 for reports of randomised controlled trials (rcts) on the basis of the search terms ‘schizophrenia’, ‘exercise’ and ‘physical activity’. Relevant literature was also traced by means of the reference lists for selected articles.
results Eight rcts were selected. Physical exercise was reported to bring about significant improvements in cardiovascular and metabolic parameters and in psychiatric symptomatology. A physical exercise also has social advantages; it helps patients to cope with stress and improves their quality of life.
conclusion Physical exercise as part of psychomotor therapy should play an important role within the multidisciplinary treatment of schizophrenia. More research is needed into the effect of physical activity on cognitive functioning.