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Schizophrenia and Exercise

Schizophrenia is a severe and chronic mental disorder that affects over 20 million people worldwide. It is characterised by significant impairments in the way reality is perceived. It results in psychosis and behavioural changes caused by distorted thinking, perception, emotions, language and sense of self. Unfortunately the cognitive symptoms of Schizophrenia; memory, problem solving and attention, do not respond to antipsychotic medications. However, exercise is being explored as an intervention with exciting, positive results! 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise completed at least 3 times a week has been found to significantly improve the overall cognition of individuals with Schizophrenia. More specifically benefits from exercise can be seen in: Working memory - the cognitive system that holds information temporarily. This is important for reasoning, decision making and behaviour. Attentional processing - the ability to selectively concentrate on the important features in your environment while ignoring other aspects that can become distractions. Social cognition - the way in which people process, remember and use information about other people to explain and predict their own behaviour and that of others. Additionally, low motivation and medication side effects commonly result in increased weight, obesity and metabolic syndrome in people with Schizophrenia. Exercise will assist weight management and in turn reduce the risk of developing other preventable health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Exercise can enhance both the physical and psychological well-being in people with Schizophrenia. If you, or someone you know are interested in hearing more about how a tailored exercise program can assist with managing Schizophrenia, feel free to reach out to one of our Exercise Physiologists here at Vitality Health and Rehab.

And remember any form of physical activity is better than none! Find something you enjoy and look for small opportunities to be more active like taking the stairs instead of the lift!


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