Exercise Could Help Recovery for Severe Mental Illness

If anyone has been searching for more reasons to tip the scale away from a sedentary lifestyle and toward a more active one, consider a new study which suggests how exercise can decrease symptoms for young adults experiencing severe mental illness. Even better is the discovery that it doesn’t take hours a day to see improvements, rather just 90 minutes per week.

A study in the journal Early Intervention in Psychiatry followed 38 adults with ages ranging from 18 to 35 who had experienced an episode of psychosis. Especially common for this age group, psychosis can be experienced as a range of symptoms from delusions to hallucinations, all of which include a disconnect from reality. All of the participants were receiving early-intervention care and medications through an English mental health agency. What the researchers found was a 27 percent decrease in symptoms in the group who were instructed to follow an active lifestyle.

The exercise group was asked to get moving for at least 90 minutes per week and their experiences were recorded for 10 weeks. While the control group also experienced a nearly 8 percent decrease in their symptoms, the exercise group’s improvements with just a moderate amount of activity is truly promising. Especially notable was the 33 percent drop in social withdrawal and low motivation, which are some of the negative symptoms of psychotic disorders, or effects which diminish healthy functioning abilities.

Joseph Firth, the lead author of the study, told Live Science, “I would highly recommend exercise as an intervention for early psychosis.” He reflects on the results of an earlier study he and his team performed, which suggested that exercise can help people distract from troubling auditory hallucinations or thoughts. “Exercise was also said to produce an energizing, ‘feel good’ effect for the young people, helping them to overcome the motivational deficits associated with psychosis,” he said.

Just like beginning and maintaining a healthy and consistent exercise program can be difficult for anyone, those with a severe and persistent illness face extra hurdles in reaping the holistic benefits of exercise. Working with a trained professional, and also with the support of friends and family, can help someone successfully incorporate physical activity as a part of their mental health recovery.

6 Low-Impact Exercises That Are Easy on the Joints
Improve Your Balance With These 5 Simple Exercises
The Simple Yet Potent Exercise That Benefits Everyone

Photo credit: Austin Schmid


Mike R
Mike R8 months ago


Marija M
Marija M11 months ago


Emma Z
Past Member 11 months ago


Chrissie R
Chrissie R11 months ago

Sure it can help...that's why it's recommended as part of a PROFESSIONAL treatment plan including therapy and medications.

Danuta W
Danuta W11 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Camilla V
Camilla Vaga11 months ago


Ruth S
Ruth S11 months ago


Virginia Belder
Virginia Belder2 years ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Veronica Danie
.2 years ago

Thank You!