Vol 16, No 1 (2019)
Review paper
Published online: 2019-02-09
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Effects of physical activity on the treatment of schizophrenia

Adam Łopuszko, Zofia Lebiecka, Krzysztof Rudkowski, Jolanta Kucharska-Mazur, Jerzy Samochowiec
Psychiatria 2019;16(1):33-43.

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Vol 16, No 1 (2019)
Prace poglądowe - nadesłane
Published online: 2019-02-09

Abstract

The aim of this paper was to describe the effects of physical activity on the functioning of schizophrenia patients.
To this end, a critical review of literature was made and the current state of knowledge systematized. To highlight
the importance of contemporary research trends, a panel of experts from the European Psychiatric Association
reviewed available literature and issued a guidance on physical activity in the treatment of patients with severe
mental illness.
Due to the effect of antipsychotic treatment, low physical activity, and/or somatic comorbidity, life expectancy of
schizophrenia patients is estimated as 10–20 years shorter compared to the general population, with 4-fold higher
incidence of metabolic and 2- to 3-fold higher incidence of cardiovascular diseases. Regular physical exercise
alongside psychological and dietary interventions are reported to improve parameters of the metabolic syndrome
and cardiovascular fitness. It is of note that moderate and high intensity training constitute attractive forms of
adjuvant therapy available to practically all patients, adjustable to their age, performance and preferences. Due
to its effects on increasing hippocampal volume, physical activity also affects cognitive performance and positive
and negative symptoms of schizophrenia.
It is expected that future research findings and high-quality clinical trials will help create practical recommendations
for training programs of optimal length and form of aerobic exercise for patients suffering from schizophrenia.
The necessary practical approach is to raise patient awareness that physical exercise is an effective preventive
measure against complications of somatic comorbidities and improving life expectancy and its quality.

Abstract

The aim of this paper was to describe the effects of physical activity on the functioning of schizophrenia patients.
To this end, a critical review of literature was made and the current state of knowledge systematized. To highlight
the importance of contemporary research trends, a panel of experts from the European Psychiatric Association
reviewed available literature and issued a guidance on physical activity in the treatment of patients with severe
mental illness.
Due to the effect of antipsychotic treatment, low physical activity, and/or somatic comorbidity, life expectancy of
schizophrenia patients is estimated as 10–20 years shorter compared to the general population, with 4-fold higher
incidence of metabolic and 2- to 3-fold higher incidence of cardiovascular diseases. Regular physical exercise
alongside psychological and dietary interventions are reported to improve parameters of the metabolic syndrome
and cardiovascular fitness. It is of note that moderate and high intensity training constitute attractive forms of
adjuvant therapy available to practically all patients, adjustable to their age, performance and preferences. Due
to its effects on increasing hippocampal volume, physical activity also affects cognitive performance and positive
and negative symptoms of schizophrenia.
It is expected that future research findings and high-quality clinical trials will help create practical recommendations
for training programs of optimal length and form of aerobic exercise for patients suffering from schizophrenia.
The necessary practical approach is to raise patient awareness that physical exercise is an effective preventive
measure against complications of somatic comorbidities and improving life expectancy and its quality.

Get Citation

Keywords

physical activity, schizophrenia, metabolic syndrome, cognitive functions

About this article
Title

Effects of physical activity on the treatment of schizophrenia

Journal

Psychiatria (Psychiatry)

Issue

Vol 16, No 1 (2019)

Article type

Review paper

Pages

33-43

Published online

2019-02-09

Bibliographic record

Psychiatria 2019;16(1):33-43.

Keywords

physical activity
schizophrenia
metabolic syndrome
cognitive functions

Authors

Adam Łopuszko
Zofia Lebiecka
Krzysztof Rudkowski
Jolanta Kucharska-Mazur
Jerzy Samochowiec

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