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HSR&D Citation Abstract

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Kern RS, Reddy LF, Cohen AN, Young AS, Green MF. Effects of aerobic exercise on cardiorespiratory fitness and social functioning in veterans 40 to 65 years old with schizophrenia. Psychiatry Research. 2020 Sep 1; 291:113258.
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Abstract: The usual physical activity level of people with chronic histories of schizophrenia is very low. In this pilot study, we examined the effects of an easy to implement aerobic exercise (AE) program on cardiorespiratory fitness and social functioning in 54 Veterans aged 40-65 years old with schizophrenia. Participants were randomized 2:1 to AE (36 forty-minute sessions conducted 3 times per week over 12 weeks) versus a non-aerobic stretching exercise condition conducted under the same regimen and timeframe. Cardiorespiratory fitness improved significantly within the AE group (p < .0001), and differed significantly from the comparison group (p < .02; Cohen's d = .41). Trend-level improvements were seen in social functioning within the AE group (p < .09) and showed a similar trend level difference in the between-group comparison (p < .06; Cohen's d = .35). Improvements in social functioning were significantly related to gains in cardiorespiratory fitness (r = .42; p < .01). AE effects on other physical and mental health indices were also examined. Overall, the AE intervention was well-tolerated, safe, and showed low rates of attrition after the commencement of training. Our findings indicate it is feasible to improve cardiorespiratory fitness in this clinical population, and there is suggestive evidence that the interventions aimed to do so may also benefit social functioning.

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