Neurocognitive dysfunction is a critical target symptom of schizophrenia treatment. A positive correlation between physical activity level and neurocognitive function has been reported in healthy individuals, but it is unclear whether such a correlation exists in patients with schizophrenia and whether the relationship is different according to inpatients or outpatients. This study aimed to examine the differences in the correlations between physical activity and multiple neurocognitive domains in inpatients and outpatients with schizophrenia and obtain suggestions for further study to facilitate this field.
Twenty-nine patients with schizophrenia were examined (16 inpatients and 13 outpatients, 56.0 ± 11.4 years of age). Current symptoms were assessed using the Positive and Negative Symptom Scale and neurocognitive functions using Cognitrax, which yields a composite neurocognitive index (NCI) and 11 domain scores. After testing, participants wore an HJA-750C accelerometer for one week to measure physical activity levels and durations. Partial correlation analyses were performed between exercise and cognitive parameters.
In the outpatient group, higher physical activity was associated with faster Motor and Psychomotor Speeds in outpatients. However, higher physical activity was associated with lower overall NCI, Attention score, and Memory scores in inpatients.
Although higher physical activity was associated with better neurocognitive functions of outpatients, in inpatients with non-remitted schizophrenia, higher physical activity was associated with worsening of several cognitive domains. In a future study examining the relationship between physical activity and neurocognitive function for facilitating this research field, separation between inpatients and outpatients are needed because the relationship is different between inpatients and outpatients.