Does Being Physically Fit Help People with Schizophrenia Manage their Condition?

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Some illnesses can be only be improved by being physically fit. This essay will consider schizophrenia, and if being physically fit links with being mentally healthy. It will look at how people with schizophrenia manage their condition and whether exercise can improve their condition. This is important to consider as it is a long-term mental health condition. This essay will first describe what schizophrenia is and the possible causes, then it will then move onto discuss treatments for this illness besides exercise. Finally, it will consider the link between being physically fit and mentally fit and how this can be a possible solution to treat schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental health disorder that can be diagnosed at any age. There is no cure for this illness. It affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves. Some symptoms can include delusions, abnormal emotional affect, disordered speech and thinking. The cause for this mental illness is a combination of genetic and environmental factors (, 2018). Research has found no gene is responsible for the cause for this illness. Stress is one environmental factor which can trigger schizophrenia. Cannabis or other recreational drugs which contain amphetamines have been found to increase dopamine levels and this can also cause schizophrenia.

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Ozbulut et al. (2013) carried out a study to see how exercise can affect those with schizophrenia and those without. They found people with schizophrenia were unhealthy; they found maximal aerobic capacity, power and pulmonary function tests were lower in the male and female schizophrenic groups compared to the controlled group. Pajonk et al. (2010) also found after three months of aerobic training the hippocampal volume increased in patients suffering from schizophrenia. Their findings suggest having a physical exercise program has social advantages. It allows those suffering from schizophrenia to cope with stress and allows them to have a fresh start as their hippocampal increased in size, taking away their stress. They noticed as the patients began improving in fitness it would only drive them forward, and they would continue to push themselves, as they would have no worries. This was an advantage to the case study as it showed there are benefits from being physically fit. Bonnet et al. (2003) found anxiety and depression are associated with physical inactivity, and physical fitness and activity can play a huge role in treatment for people with schizophrenia.

Physical fitness can be seen as a good treatment for many people with schizophrenia as it allows them to be occupied. It may allow them to feel free and not trapped in their own thoughts and help them cope with their mental health. Patel, Frederick and Kidd (2018) found in their study that by being active for the ten months of the study the participants suffering from the illness were showing improvement, as they began having better relationships with those around them. A consideration regarding their study was that they recruited participants who wanted to participate and were interested in improving their illness, which may have had an impact on their results. They noticed a change as for some people physical health problems prevented them from being able to move the way they wanted to. However, one participant gained significant amounts of personal satisfaction and pleasure from long daily walks through the city. This shows people with schizophrenia can benefit from doing physical exercise, as not only does it improve their thoughts it also allows them to not look down on themselves. Patel, Frederick and Kidd (2018) believe physical fitness needs to be explored in the future.

However, this does not necessarily mean being physically fit means you are mentally fit. There are other ways in which schizophrenia can be treated like therapy for example. Therapy can also be used to improve schizophrenia. For example, Bradshaw (1998) spent three years treating with one patient with talking therapy. Bradshaw (1998) found with therapy the patient’s hospital days decreased significantly from the pre-test (figure 2). Also, with therapy the patient began gaining confidence, and her anxiety and depression was slowly fading away. Bradshaw (1998) also found that the patient showed a change in her personality as the test lasted for a few years, and it made the patient appreciate herself as she no longer felt like she had no meaning in life. A limitation to this study was that it was only studying one patient; while it was effective for this patient it might not be the same for other people.

Kuller and Bjorgvinsson (2010) used the cognitive behavioural method on a patient who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and had a delusion of being under surveillance by the mafia who were out to murder him. His condition got worse as he assumed his wife was an accomplice to kill him and was admitted to the hospital. The results collected from the patient, as he was being treated. The therapist opened the patient up, in the beginning he was being defensive, but overtime he became more comfortable and talked about his problems his self-reported levels of conviction and functioning decreased measurably, as talking it out helped him get past his paranoia. It was later found he showed signs of improvement in mood and psychosocial functioning. This shows there are other ways in which schizophrenia can be treated besides fitness. A limitation of this study is that only one patient was treated, and this does not mean that there would be the same outcome for other patients suffering from the same illness. However, it does show there is another way in which it can be treated. Kuller and Bjorgvinsson’s (2010) study found how CBTp is effective as it does help the patient recover from their paranoia and allow them back into the community.

In conclusion this essay has discussed whether being physically fit does not necessarily mean a person with schizophrenia is mentally fit. In terms of treatment it does give them a motivation to focus on a goal to improve their body as well as mind. However, there are other ways in which this illness can be treated like the treatment used by Bradshaw (1998) which was therapy and improved the patient’s life. He allowed the patient to have a second chance. Not only that but it also had a similar result to those found by Patel, Frederick and Kidd (2018) in physical fitness. They found that some patients began having a better relationship with those around them. The essay has also shown how schizophrenia can be treated with different therapies. The outcome of all four studies were similar as they ended with the patient beginning to recover. However, a difference with the cognitive behavioural method is that only one patient can be treated at a time and this may not be successful for everyone. This study has a small sample whereas, the exercise method has a larger sample, this can make the results more generalisable. Research has found how physical exercise is used to modulate adult neurogenesis significantly and leads to mood improvements. This therefore leads to a better management of different psychiatric disorders, seen as the patients began improving on their everyday life. Kuller and Bjorgvinsson’s (2010) case study is another example of how schizophrenia can be treated, as it does not always have to link to exercise which can help. The patient was not physically fit, as he went through therapy helped him recover and be mentally fit after 30 weeks. It shows how one to one session can have patients suffering from this illness can be treated, even if they are not physically fit. On the other hand, Ozbulut et al. (2013) is another case study which proved being physical fit links to mental fit, as it was shown in the research one patient showed improvement from long daily walks. It improved the patients condition and exercise is considered an important treatment for people suffering from schizophrenia. Ozbulut et al. (2013) suggested exercise should be looked into with more depth.

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Does Being Physically Fit Help People with Schizophrenia Manage their Condition? (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
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