Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Exercise Boosts Cognitive Function in Schizophrenia

Its hard to get people to do it - but worth it if you can…


Recent research on the importance of physical and cognitive exercise to possibly prevent and certainly to use in treatment of schizophrenia, especially in regard to early psychosis.


I was just talking to my daughter today about starting to go to the gym more regularly. We both could use more exercise and we just need to make ourselves go. I just feel so out of place in a gym and all those machines are daunting.

I know the feeling. Tried a 24 hour gym for a while, since I have insomnia and mistakenly thought there were periods of time when they are empty. While there are times there are significantly fewer people there, there always seems to be someone there.

I did home gym for a while with videos and such, but fell out of the habit. Hoping to get back into it. I just go for walks with my sister at present.

I vaguely recall a video from my mental health high school gym/health class that featured calisthenics in a mental hospital setting. At the time they said something about noticing measurable improvements in people who did and didn’t do them. They weren’t sure why, but there was speculation some of it was from having to mirror instructors, that the brain work required to do that interacted with the corpus colosseum. This was 40 years ago, but for some reason it stuck with me. The video was in black and white, so it may have been an old instructional movie.

Yeah, we belong to a 24 hour gym and rarely go.

Hmm, maybe walks are the key right now. We walk the dogs, but that isn’t exercise, maybe a separate, very fast paced walk without the dogs, just my daughter and me, is a good thing to shoot for daily.


Exercise help reduces depression; if you are consistent it can eliminate depression. For that reason exercise is very important for those with any mental health issues. My brother was a very good martial artist and as bad as his schizophrenia was his commitment to exercise and martial arts helped him a great deal. When he came out of his delusions, he never truly believed them to be true. I believe martial arts and exercise played a huge part in him able to stay in reality when schizophrenia was not controlling him.

As for caregivers and those that have to emotionally deal with someone with mental health issues, we need to balance our lives with exercise. Start with 15 minute walks and build up to 30, 40, 50, 60 minute walks. Then if you can, turn the walks into jogs. Add push ups and sit ups. Martial arts or yoga will have you strengthen your mental state.

I am a civil engineer and a martial arts instructor. Exercise and martial arts balances me; it makes a better engineer and person. It strengthens me mentally so I can deal with my family issues. Ironically, it was my schizophrenic brother who was my first martial arts instructor when I was just 9 (over 40 years ago). Before he went ‘crazy’ he taught me the importance of exercise and martial arts and how it can make you feel better.

So for us caregivers, the best thing for us is to take care of ourselves physically. Exercise! Exercise will reduce depression and increase our immune system. We are no good to those around us if don’t physically take care of ourselves as well.

over 40 years of exercise and practicing martial arts, it has never failed me and I have only benefited from both.



My son recently started martial arts training, but is struggling to get the motivation to practice. I’m not sure how to help him with this.

For myself, just keeping moving is the goal. Gardening is my favorite exercise, followed by taking walks.

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Yes, walks and gardening have been my only activities really, @Vallpen The dog walks with my daughter over the years have been good for us. She doesn’t like to garden though.

My daughter and I went for an hour long walk, with no dogs, at sunset. (Usually it is a slow 20 minutes walk with the dogs.) It was beautiful and tiring, we both enjoyed it as we could walk fast and cover a lot of ground. We will have to keep doing that.

Thank you @Chuong_Ha for your suggestion to get moving and to increase length of walks and speed, and maybe add in push ups and sit ups. Yoga would be fun for both of us too, I think. Perhaps I can find a good video instruction to follow along.