Exercise therapy in adults with serious mental illness: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Pearsall, R., Smith, D. , Pelosi, A. and Geddes, J. (2014) Exercise therapy in adults with serious mental illness: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry, 14(117), (doi:10.1186/1471-244X-14-117)

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Abstract

Background: Individuals with serious mental illness are at a higher risk of physical ill health. Mortality rates are at least twice those of the general population with higher levels of cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, diabetes, and respiratory illness. Although genetics may have a role in the physical health problems of these patients, lifestyle and environmental factors such as levels of smoking, obesity, poor diet, and low levels of physical activity also play a prominent part.

Objective: To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials comparing the effect of exercise interventions on individuals with serious mental illness.

Methods: Searches were made in Ovid MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Biological Abstracts on Ovid, and The Cochrane Library (January 2009, repeated January 2013) through to February 2013.

Results: Eight RCTs were identified in the systematic search. Six compared exercise versus usual care. One study assessed the effect of a cycling programme versus muscle strengthening and toning exercises. The final study compared the effect of adding specific exercise advice and motivational skills to a simple walking programme. Exercise programmes were noted by their heterogeneity in terms of the type of exercise intervention, setting, and outcome measures. The review found that exercise improved levels of exercise activity (n=13, standard mean difference [SMD] 1.81, CI 0.44 to 3.18, p = 0.01). No beneficial effect was found on negative (n = 84, SMD = -0.54, CI -1.79 to 0.71, p = 0.40) or positive symptoms of schizophrenia (n = 84, SMD = -1.66, CI -3.78 to 0.45, p = 0.12). No change was found on body mass index compared with usual care (n= 151, SMD = -0.24, CI -0.56 to 0.08, p = 0.14), or body weight (n = 77, SMD = 0.13, CI -0.32 to 0.58, p = 0.57). No beneficial effect was found on anxiety and depressive symptoms (n = 94, SMD = -0.26, CI -0.91 to 0.39, p = 0.43), or quality of life in respect of physical and mental domains. One RCT measured the effect of exercise on exercise intensity, attendance, and persistence at a programme. No significant effect was found on these measures.

Conclusions: This systematic review showed that exercise therapies can lead to a modest increase in levels of exercise activity but overall there was no noticeable change for symptoms of mental health, body mass index, and body weight.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Smith, Professor Daniel and Pelosi, Professor Anthony
Authors: Pearsall, R., Smith, D., Pelosi, A., and Geddes, J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
Journal Name:BMC Psychiatry
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN:1471-244X
ISSN (Online):1471-244X
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 The Authors
First Published:First published in BMC Psychiatry 14(117)
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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