Regular Exercise has Mental Health Benefits for Schizophrenics

A review recently published in the Cochrane Library indicates that individuals with schizophrenia can obtain the same mental health benefits from regular exercise as those without the disorder. Researchers have known for a long time that 30 minutes of exercise at least several days a week has mental health benefits for the general population. But the effects on schizophrenics were not clear.

The benefits of regular exercise include decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety, and overall improvement in emotional well being. The researchers behind this focused on recent previous studies that measured the exercise benefits of short term (12 to 16 weeks) exercise programs for schizophrenics. The types of exercises used in the studies included yoga, walking, jogging, and strength training.

The researchers observed physical benefits from exercise as well, but in the big picture, they weren’t significant. The trials in the studies were short term which may partly explain the lack of a more significant physical benefit.

These findings are important because schizophrenia affects approximately 1% of the population. For those living with such a challenging disorder, it is helpful to know that something like regular exercise can have significant benefits. Further research may help treatment providers find the best way to develop and incorporate exercise into the services they provide to schizophrenics.

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