Running for your life: A review of physical activity and cardiovascular disease risk reduction in individuals with schizophrenia

Claire Chalfoun, Antony D. Karelis, Emmanuel Stip, Amal Abdel-Baki

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Individuals with schizophrenia have a greater risk for cardiometabolic risk factors (e.g. central obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension and dyslipidaemia), cardiovascular diseases and mortality. This risky profile may be explained by the adverse effects of antipsychotic medications and an unhealthy lifestyle (e.g. smoking, poor nutrition and low physical activity). In the general population, physical activity has been shown to be the optimal strategy to improve both cardiometabolic parameters and cardiorespiratory fitness levels. Accordingly, an emerging literature of non-pharmacological interventions (e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy, diet and physical activity) has been studied in individuals with schizophrenia. Therefore, the purpose of this review was 1) to conduct a critical literature review of nonpharmacological interventions that included some kind of physical activity (including supervised and unsupervised exercise training) and target cardiometabolic risk factors in individuals with schizophrenia. 2) To describe the contribution of physical activity alone by reviewing trials of supervised exercise training programmes only. A literature review via systematic keyword search for publications in Medline, PubMed, Embase and PsycINFO was performed. Many non-pharmacological interventions are efficient in reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors when combined with physical activity. Supervised physical activity has been successful in decreasing cardiovascular disease risk, and aerobic interval training appears to provide more benefits by specifically targeting cardiorespiratory fitness levels. In conclusion, physical activity is an effective strategy for addressing cardiovascular disease risk in individuals with schizophrenia. Long-term studies are needed to evaluate the feasibility and impact of exercise training programmes in individuals with schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1500-1515
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Aerobic interval training
  • Cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Metabolic complications
  • Non-pharmacological interventions
  • Psychosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Running for your life: A review of physical activity and cardiovascular disease risk reduction in individuals with schizophrenia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this