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Exercise plus Cognitive Training provides Most Benefit to Schizophrenic Patients

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Adding exercise to cognitive training provides most benefit fo schizophrenic patients clinical trial confirms

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that affects a person's ability to think, feel, and behave clearly. It can be a debilitating condition that affects a person's daily functioning. However, recent research has shown that cognitive training and aerobic exercise may improve cognitive function and everyday functioning in people with schizophrenia.

In a clinical trial, researchers examined the impact of a 6-month program of cognitive training and exercise (CT&E) compared to cognitive training alone (CT) in 47 first-episode schizophrenia outpatients. All participants were provided with the same Posit Science computerized CT, 4 hours per week, using BrainHQ and SocialVille programs. The CT&E group also participated in total body circuit training exercises to enhance aerobic conditioning. Clinic and home-based exercise were combined for a target of 150 minutes per week.

The results showed that the CT&E group had a significant improvement in cognitive function compared to the CT group. People who did both cognitive training and exercise (CT&E) had a bigger improvement in their overall cognitive function than those who only did cognitive training (CT) alone. This improvement was more significant in the first 3 months of the 6-month program. Work/school functioning also improved substantially more with CT&E than with CT alone by 6 months.

Interestingly, the amount of exercise completed was strongly associated with the degree of cognitive and work/school functioning improvement. Aerobic exercise is hypothesized to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and thereby synaptic plasticity, leading to increased learning capacity. The cognitive gain by 3 months predicted the amount of work/school functioning improvement at 6 months.

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While BDNF gain tended to predict the amount of cognitive gain, it did not reach significance. Nonetheless, the findings suggest that aerobic exercise significantly enhances the impact of CT on cognition and functional outcome in first-episode schizophrenia. This is an exciting development for the treatment of schizophrenia, as it offers a non-pharmacological intervention that could improve the quality of life for people with the condition.

It's worth noting that the study was conducted on first-episode schizophrenia outpatients, and the results may not be generalizable to all people with schizophrenia. However, the findings are promising and suggest that a combination of cognitive training and aerobic exercise could be a useful addition to the treatment of schizophrenia.

Conclusion

The clinical trial provides evidence that a 6-month program of cognitive training and exercise is more effective than cognitive training alone in improving cognitive function and daily functioning in people with first-episode schizophrenia. The amount of exercise completed was strongly associated with the degree of improvement, suggesting that aerobic exercise may enhance the impact of cognitive training on cognition and functional outcome. These findings offer hope for people with schizophrenia, and further research is needed to explore the potential of this intervention in a broader population.
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This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. CenTrial Data Ltd. does not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. Treatments and clinical trials mentioned may not be appropriate or available for all trial participants. Outcomes from treatments and clinical trials may vary from person to person. Consult with your doctor as to whether a clinical trial is a suitable option for your condition. Assistance from generative AI tools may have been used in writing this article.