Physical activity and schizophrenia: how much exercise do people do?

Physical activity and schizophrenia don’t always see eye to eye. There is evidence that physical activity interventions can improve cardio-metabolic outcomes and improve mental health symptoms in people with schizophrenia (Firth et al 2015, Rosenbaum et al, 2014). However, people with psychotic disorders are highly sedentary (Stubbs et al 2015, 2016b) and experience a range of barriers to physical activity.

While there is increasing data about motivational factors and barriers to exercise in psychiatric patients that can help develop effective interventions to increase exercise participation, there is still a great deal of confusion in the literature about how much physical activity psychiatric patients engage in and if they are meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week.

Thus the subject of today’s blog is a systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression that aims to quantify physical activity levels in people with schizophrenia (Stubbs et al 2016a).

1 Like

I have a Fitbit activity monitor and usually average 12k steps per day. Not much else though.

I do zero physical exercise.

1 Like

I started using the exercise bike again. I gave up after finding I was doing it and putting on weight.

1 Like

try to run intervals twice a week, with the nautilus,

and get my son to do it too.
But yeah, it seems some respond to exercise and others don’t.

I think it helps with my negative symptoms,
and gives me more energy too.


I just re-joined a gym a few months ago, after a couple years of not getting much exercise at all, and I have been better off because of it. Sure, even as I’m exercising I have weird/crazy stuff going on in my head from which I simply cannot distract myself, but like @Daze said, it gives energy and reduces negative symptoms. I’m schizoaffective and it helps a ton with depression, too. :slight_smile:


Exercise is very important for me, I exercise 5 days a week. With (intense) cardio you get the benefits every healthy person gets (endorphin release), plus it really helps with a wide range of symptoms (from depressive to negative and positive symptoms) which will last almost all day. Plus you get all the benefits any other person will get, you get faster, build condition and stamina etc, in other words, if you keep doing cardio it shots off the slow making effects antipsychotics have on your body/mental health.

With weight lifting it’s a whole different story, sometimes it helps with symptoms other times it makes me more depressed, even angry afterwards. I’ve been struggling for 6 years to create muscle mass but fail each year (only gain fat which I eventually have to lose again) this is because antipsychotics would not let you create muscle mass, tone or firmness (it even causes muscle athropy). You only gain a little bit of strength, but even that is very limited. With this issue I’ve gone to psychiatry, my regular doc and a sports physician but they all come to the conclusion they cannot help me because of the antipsychotics. I’ve been told I’m a “unique schizophrenic” in this situation because they all never had a patient who exercises intensely like I do.

If you join group sessions in the gym you’ll also will be excepted as a group member if you keep showing up, so it has a social upside too.

Anyway, my conclusion is, if you want to minimize symptoms, have social interactions, lose weight or gain stamina/speed start doing cardio. Don’t bother lifting weights in the hopes it’ll help you mentally or can become a bodybuilder, antipsychotics will not let you accomplish this no matter what.

great! Be careful not to get burnt out,

and try to do different, lighter things too,
like line dancing, pilates, or yoga.

I could never get real tight abs on the meds.

I could never go to a gym with so called “normies” . My social anxiety wouldn’t allow it, It would have to be a group with other mentally ill people whether gym,swimming or walking etc.
Walking is the easiest to do but I’m limited where I can walk by myself. Tried walking round the centre of town in small circles, by myself, a while back . It was not a good experience.
It certainly didn’t motivate me to persevere with it.
Last time I did much walking was when I was seeing my befriender.


I do Pilates three times a week and sometimes I walk. I want to start go running in order to lose weight, but I’m being a bit lazy these days.

1 Like

I’ve never heard of antipsychotics creating muscle atrophy. Where did you get that information?

1 Like

got my run in today with my dog,

get up the top crack in the trail,
all I have to say to her is, “Ready?”

And she takes off!

We did hard sprints with walking half and half each lap.

ahhh, got some great vitamin D sunlight too.

1 Like

my brother pays to go to a gym. says there are a lot of people, which my paranoid sz is not a fan of. I exercise on my own. Indoor exercises can be boring though, so I walk outside to warm up.

I run about 20 miles per week rather slowly I’ll admit at about 9-10 min per mile. So thats about 200 minutes a week. Thats my only exercise, but I’m getting better and faster. Today I ran 6mi in about an hour, first 4 miles a bit slower than 9 minute pace last 2 at 10-12 minute pace. I know I’m slow but I’m overweight and I’m just starting out. Running makes me feel good about myself.


I can understand that. For me, walking around my neighborhood gets me on edge due to my paranoia (I live in a ghetto). I walk to the end of the block to buy cigarettes, but that’s about all the walking I’ll do around here. The number people at a gym varies quite a bit depending on time of day. I just put headphones on, look at the TVs and try to shut the people out as much as I can.

1 Like

I used to jog 5ks 4-5 times a week and weight train three days a week. That was before antipsychotics. I am now to stiff and sedated to work out. Also, what’s the point? It’s not like you’re gonna lose any weight anyway.

Maybe it depends on which antipsychotic you’re on. I get monthly aripiprazole injections, and I’ve managed to lose 18 lbs in the past three months through exercise. I can’t tolerate the side effects of most antipsychotics, but Abilify has never caused me any problems.

My work gives me far to much for a person my age, but I guess it is a good thing

I’ll look into it, I’m on a low dose of latuda and I hate it.

I hated Latuda, too, especially after being upped from 40 to 80 mg. That’s how I ended up trying Abilify.

1 Like