Is There a Link Between Exercise, Cognition, and Schizophrenia

Currently, there’s limited evidence for important procognitive consequences for antipsychotics and additional curricular approaches.1 Thus, treatment of cognitive impairment in schizophrenia reflects a huge area of unmet need.

There has been considerable research about the effects of exercise on brain structure and operational performance.2 A meta-analysis discovered that aerobic exercise exerts a positive impact on international cognition and a few, but not all, cognitive domain from patients with schizophrenia. Regrettably, findings have been limited by small samples, in addition to varying intensity and types of exercise and research designs.3


During hospitalization for an incident of disease exacerbation, her antipsychotic medication was altered. On the next 4 weeks, she gained roughly 50 pounds. Mrs Morris declined to decrease the dose of her antipsychotic or alter drugs due to her clinical enhancement. She worried about danger of some other illness relapse.

Mrs Morris began walking with a neighbor for approximately half an hour in a moderate speed three or more times each week. During the following year, she dropped 36 pounds. Though there were no clinically significant changes in her cognitive role, she reported feeling much better as a consequence of her workout regimen.

Assessing the Research

To further elucidate this matter, Huang and colleagues conducted a 12-week randomized controlled trial of the effects of aerobic walking cognitive functioning in patients with schizophrenia.4 The aim was to ascertain whether the seriousness of aerobic walking is associated with changes in cognition. Patients were randomized 1:1 according to sex and age to normal treatment with antipsychotics without aerobic walking. Inclusion criteria were 20 to 60 decades, DSM-5 analysis of schizophrenia, steady antipsychotic dose for at least 1 month, Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) total score 95, no background of important physical disorder, without a physical disability that resulted in difficulty walking.

The Aerobic Protocol

The program included 150 minutes/week of outside walking, typically split more than 3 to 5 sessions and every having a 5-minute warm-up, accompanied with a 5-minute cool-down. Transport was given to the workout sessions as required. Participants wore a Fitbit to track heart rate and workout intensity and have been supervised by researchers who provided advice based on heartbeat. The sufferers could rest if necessary. Participants were stratified into high- and – low-intensity groups depending on the typical in-session heart rate book.

Data were examined using intention-to-treat and per-protocol investigations. Multivariate general linear model repeated measures were utilized to investigate the consequences of time, team, and also the time x group interaction on cognition, controlling illness duration. Thirty-three patients at the TAU and 31 from the aerobic walking team finished the 12-week trial (Table). At baseline, participants at the aerobic walking team scored roughly 0.5 standard deviations reduced on international cognition than the TAU group. Eleven patients attained high-intensity walking and 22 maintained . From the whole intent-to-treat sample, the writers found a tendency for a set effect for increased progress in verbal fluency from the aerobic walking class. In addition they found a substantial group effect on attention and processing rate in large – versus low-intensity aerobic walking.

Assessing the Findings

The findings indicate that this intervention is possible and acceptable to patients, which oversight and transport are connected with retention. Study limitations included the small sample size (particularly in the high-intensity class ) and a comparatively short study duration, in addition to the inability for blinding to the intervention.

The Main Point

A supervised aerobic walking program between moderate-intensity exercise is achievable and suitable in patients with schizophrenia. Greater intensity aerobic exercise might have little procognitive consequences in those patients. Contemplating that the other health benefits of cardio, these apps can be helpful for patients with schizophrenia.

He’s on the Editorial Board and serves as the schizophrenia part principal for Psychiatric TimesTM.