Aerobic exercise may have benefits for patients with chronic schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a chronic disease associated with a decrease in the size of the hippocampus and an inhibiting of the production of new neurons. The hippocampus plays an important part in spatial navigation and memory; researchers theorize that schizophrenia is chronic in part due to the brain’s apparent limited ability to produce new neurons in this population. According to a study published in the February Archives of General Psychiatry, aerobic exercise may have benefits for patients with chronic schizophrenia. The study found that participants with schizophrenia, after three months of aerobic exercise, experienced a significant increase in the volume of the hippocampus. According to Frank-Gerald Pajonk, MD, of Dr K. Fontheim’s Hospital for Mental Health in Liebenburg, Germany, and colleagues, the increase in volume was also accompanied by slight increases in markers of neuron production and short-term memory. While it is too early to speculate whether or not incorporating aerobic exercise into treatment programs would cause a decrease in symptoms associated with schizophrenia, the researchers all agreed that the clinical benefits of aerobic exercise in this population should be examined more closely. Click here to read an article from Modern Medicine that discusses this study more.