Decreased brain volume in frontal regions is a prominent feature of chronic schizophrenia and has been linked to impairments in psychological functioning and social disability. These impairments persist over the lifespan, with approximately 64% of individuals experiencing severe social disability 15 years after first being diagnosed with the illness. Finding ways to overcome barriers to better functioning is of utmost importance to improving patient quality of life and reducing the burden on the health care system. Recent evidence suggests that physical exercise can lead to increased brain volume, with implications for psychological and social functioning. The current study will investigate the efficacy of a 12-week aerobic exercise program for improving brain volume, psychological functioning, and social disability in chronic schizophrenia. Neuroimaging methods and standard neuropsychological tests will be used to evaluate changes in brain volume and functioning from study entry to 12-week follow-up. This research aligns well with the visions of BC Mental Health and Addiction Services in that it aims to advance best practices in mental health by establishing evidence for exercise as an effective intervention for chronic illness.
Dr. Allen Thornton
BC Mental Health & Addictions Services
Simon Fraser University
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