A recent University of Manchester study has shown some surprising results, and indicates that psychosis in young adults could be eased with exercise. Joseph Firth, a doctoral student and the lead author of the study, cautioned “This was only a pilot study, but the improvements, particularly in psychiatric symptoms, were dramatic. Personalized exercise at local leisure centers seems to be a cost-effective and successful way to help these young people recover.” The long term prospects for young adults who receive a diagnosis of psychosis is usually poor. These individuals tend to experience high rates of unemployment, relapse, and an early and premature death. The drugs used to treat the psychosis can often cause weight gain that is rapid and excessive along with many other unpleasant side effects that can negatively impact the quality of life that the individual has.
Mental health professionals have known that exercise can be a treatment that is highly effective for individuals with long term schizophrenia, but this is the first study to examine how exercise impacts young adults who are displaying early signs and symptoms of psychosis. According to Firth “Establishing an exercise regime for people with psychosis is likely to be much more effective when they are younger, and in the earliest stages of treatment. Getting people into a routine early on also helps set habits for life, which can make a huge difference to their long-term physical and mental health. Personalizing exercise training to the activities which patients find most motivating helps them stick to their program. By reaching people early on, exercise can provide a healthy and empowering add-on treatment for young people with psychosis. This could massively improve their social functioning and mental health, hopefully preventing long-term disability from ever arising.”