Exercise Treatments for Psychosis: a Review

Vijay Anand Mittal*, Teresa Vargas, K. Juston Osborne, Derek Dean, Tina Gupta, Ivanka Ristanovic, Christine I. Hooker, Stewart A Shankman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

10 Scopus citations


Schizophrenia is a devastating mental illness that has profound effects on a person’s health and quality of life. Exercise represents a promising new treatment option that may supplement current psychosocial and pharmacological interventions for psychosis. A large body of work suggests that exercise can improve cardio-metabolic and health behavior and facilitate neurogenesis in areas of the brain that are notably impacted by psychosis. Recent efforts to incorporate exercise as either stand-alone or adjunctive treatment for individuals with schizophrenia range from yoga and light stretching to moderately intense walking, bike riding, or team sports. These interventions suggest that moderately intense exercise may be beneficial for improving both positive and negative symptomatology, cognition, and functioning. Indeed, exercise may be beneficial for decreasing risk factors for a wide range of health problems often observed in patients with schizophrenia, including weight gain and metabolic syndrome as well as tobacco and substance use. Given the positive results from interventions in schizophrenia patients, there is an impetus for incorporating exercise in the early stages of the disorder. Notably, individuals at ultrahigh risk (UHR) for psychosis report more sedentary behavior and perceive less benefit from exercise; interventions prior to the onset of the disorder may be helpful for increasing health behaviors, perhaps delaying or preventing the onset of psychosis. Taken together, for individuals with psychosis, exercise may provide holistic benefits for the neural to the social impairments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-166
Number of pages15
JournalCurrent Treatment Options in Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Exercise
  • Neurogenesis
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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    Mittal, V. A., Vargas, T., Juston Osborne, K., Dean, D., Gupta, T., Ristanovic, I., Hooker, C. I., & Shankman, S. A. (2017). Exercise Treatments for Psychosis: a Review. Current Treatment Options in Psychiatry, 4(2), 152-166. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40501-017-0112-2