As of now, the treatment of schizophrenia relies mainly on a combination of medication and behavioral therapy. While these treatments have proven effective, there are other ways to help mitigate and manage the symptoms of schizophrenia in addition to traditional treatments. One of the ways a person living with schizophrenia can improve their mental and physical health is through physical exercise.
As individuals with schizophrenia are at an increased risk of developing physical health problems, it is imperative that they exercise regularly. This is because the health issues associated with insufficient exercise will not only exacerbate the symptoms of schizophrenia but could also lead to the development of more dangerous conditions and diseases.
Exercise plays a crucial role in improving the mental health of individuals who suffer from schizophrenia, as sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits are more common in this population. Getting a sufficient amount of exercise can be a big step for those with schizophrenia in taking control of their mental and physical health.
Weight Loss and Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia patients frequently struggle with problems associated with weight gain. Poor diet, lack of exercise, and side effects of antipsychotic medications are the predominant causes. Excessive weight gain can lead to a number of serious health problems, and the mental and physical stress this brings on can worsen the symptoms of schizophrenia. In more severe cases, weight gain can destabilize a person’s mental health and begin to reverse the progress they’ve made.
Exercise is, therefore, an essential component to ensuring a patient’s health and continued progress with schizophrenia. Ending sedentary habits with daily physical activity is a great way to control and even lose weight. This is an easy step for most people to take on their journey to a healthier life, and it is especially important for those living with schizophrenia.
Exercise and Sleep
For mental health, it is very important for everyone, especially those who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, to get sufficient and quality sleep. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the illness and the medications typically prescribed, achieving restful sleep can be extremely difficult for many people with schizophrenia. Fortunately, though, simply exercising can significantly improve sleep quality and quantity.
Studies have shown that exercise can make it easier to fall asleep and help you stay asleep for a longer period of time. Researchers are still exploring how exactly exercising improves sleep. This may be owing to the fact that some studies suggest exercise reduces anxiety and depression. Some attribute the benefit to changes in brain chemistry or body temperature. Either way, regular exercise is a sure way to improve the quality of your sleep.
Exercise, Health, and Reducing Symptoms
In addition to helping control weight gain, exercise can help prevent other health issues. Researchers have found that people who participate in exercise programs are less likely to develop conditions like strokes or diabetes, even without losing much weight. Moreover, exercise may help prevent illnesses like osteoporosis, which can affect some people taking antipsychotics. Additionally, it helps lower blood pressure, another common side effect of medications typically prescribed to patients with schizophrenia. Lowering the risk of developing chronic health conditions and mitigating some of the adverse side effects of antipsychotic medication are just a few ways exercise can improve the overall health of a person diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Numerous studies have shown that exercising can help improve schizophrenia symptoms such as apathy, lethargy, social withdrawal, and cognitive symptoms such as memory problems and poor thinking skills. However, some questions remain regarding the mechanisms involved since the benefits appear to vary from individual to individual, with some individuals motivated more to improve their physical appearance. In contrast, others might be motivated to enhance their social interaction.
No matter the reason someone feels motivated to exercise, the benefits are clear. Exercise has long been linked with an overall improvement in general psychological wellbeing and physical health. For patients with schizophrenia, these benefits can reduce symptoms and greater ability to manage symptoms. It doesn’t take hours out of your busy day to train at the gym, sweat buckets, or run mile after mile to reap the mental and physical wellness benefits of exercise. Moderate exercise of 30 minutes four or five times a week is sufficient. It can even be broken up into two 15-minute or three 10-minute sessions if that’s easier. The important thing is getting started and staying consistent.