What prevents youth at clinical high risk for psychosis from engaging in physical activity? An examination of the barriers to physical activity

Raeana E. Newberry, Derek J. Dean*, Madison D. Sayyah, Vijay A. Mittal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Exercise has increasingly been proposed as a healthful intervention prior to and after the onset of psychosis. There is some evidence to suggest that youth at clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis are less physically active and report more barriers to engaging in exercise; however, there has been relatively limited empirical work documenting this phenomenon, and to date, relationships between physical activity, barriers, and clinical phenomenology have been unclear. Methods: CHR (N = 51) and healthy control (N = 37) participants completed a structured clinical interview assessing attenuated psychotic symptoms and substance use, and an exercise survey that assessed current exercise practices, perceived physical fitness, and barriers related to engaging in exercise. Results: CHR youth engaged in less physical activity, exhibited lower perception of fitness, and endorsed more barriers related to motivation for exercise. The CHR group showed significant negative correlations where lower perceptions of fitness were associated with increased negative, disorganized, and general symptoms. Decreased frequency of activity was related to more barriers of motivation. Interestingly, greater symptomatology in the CHR group was associated with more barriers of self-perception and motivation for engaging in exercise. However, findings suggested a nuanced relationship in this area; for example, increased physical activity was associated with increased substance use. Conclusions: The results of the current study support the notion that sedentary behavior is common in CHR youth, and more broadly, provide an impetus to target motivation through supervised exercise and fitness tracking to promote the health and well-being of CHR individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)400-405
Number of pages6
JournalSchizophrenia Research
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Barriers
  • Clinical high risk
  • Exercise
  • Physical fitness
  • Psychosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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