A new study from the University of Manchester has suggested that aerobic exercises could significantly help sufferers of the long-term mental health condition schizophrenia.
The researchers used data from 10 different clinical trials which included 385 schizophrenia sufferers. Lead researcher, Joseph Firth found that around 12 weeks of aerobic exercise training could significantly improve the brain function of patients.
This recent study by Firth, Dr Brendon Stubbs and Professor Alison Yung was published in the Schizophrenia Bulletin.
The acute phase of schizophrenia is characterised by delusions and hallucinations, usually treated with medication. However, most patients are still troubled by ‘cognitive deficits’ which include poor memory, impaired information processing and a loss of concentration.
This new research showed that patients who were treated with aerobic exercise programmes in conjunction with their normal medication can improve their overall brain function more than those treated with medication alone.
The most improved areas after the 12-week programme included patients’ ability to understand social situations, longer attention spans and ‘working memory’. The study also found evidence that the programmes with greater amounts of exercise had even better effects on the patients’ cognitive functions.
Leader researcher, Joe Firth said: “Cognitive deficits are one aspect of schizophrenia which is particularly problematic. They hinder recovery and impact negatively upon people’s ability to function in work and social situations. Furthermore, current medications for schizophrenia do not treat the cognitive deficits of the disorder. We are searching for new ways to treat these aspects of the illness, and now research is increasingly suggesting that physical exercise can provide a solution.”
He added, “These findings present the first large-scale evidence supporting the use of physical exercise to treat the neurocognitive deficits associated with schizophrenia. Using exercise from the earliest stages of the illness could reduce the likelihood of long-term disability, and facilitate full, functional recovery for patients.”
Source: Schizophrenia Bulletin