Aerobic Exercise Boosts Cognition in Schizophrenia, Study Finds


Regular aerobic exercise may improve cognition and memory in people with schizophrenia, according to a new study published in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin.

The study examined 33 schizophrenia patients randomly assigned to two treatment groups. The first group, a control, received a standard treatment regimen for the psychotic disorder. The other group received the standard treatment while also participating in an aerobic exercise program.

The aerobic fitness of the exercise group increased by 18 percent, while the fitness of the control group dropped by 0.5 percent. Importantly, the cognitive ability of the exercise group increased by 15 percent, while that of the control group fell by 2 percent.

“Our results indicated that poor aerobic fitness represents a modifiable risk factor for cognitive dysfunction in people with schizophrenia for which aerobic exercise training offers a safe, non-stigmatizing and side-effect-free intervention,” said lead study author David Kimhy, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City.

The study team theorized that the boost in cognition may be due to a certain protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Production of this protein increases during exercise.

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