Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "
Strength training works as medicine for schizophrenia
If people with schizophrenia do an hour-long workout twice a week in a fitness centre or gym the severity of their symptoms will decrease. Researchers at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro write about this in an article that will appear soon in Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria. Straightforward strength training creates the most positive effects in this group, but combined cardio and strength training also pays off.
Hallucinations can be suppressed with antipsychotic drugs such as chlorpromazine, clozapine, olanzapine, risperidone, quetiapine and haloperidol.
People with schizophrenia can also develop negative symptoms. They can become emotionally and socially withdrawn, show passive behaviour and find it difficult to engage in abstract thinking.
Many schizophrenics experience positive and negative symptoms in cycles. Cycles during which negative symptoms dominate alternate with cycles in which positive symptoms have the upper hand. A phase with positive symptoms is also referred to as a psychosis.
Antipsychotics are less effective at fighting the negative symptoms than the positive symptoms of schizophrenia. In fact, antipsychotics can sometimes make the negative symptoms worse.
A control group [CTRL, Control] did nothing at all during the 20 weeks that the experiment lasted.
A second group trained twice a week for an hour using weights in a gym [Strength training]. So this group did strength training only. Information on how the training routine was built up can be found here.
The third group also trained for an hour twice a week. This group combined strength training with cardio training [Concurrent training]. Information on how their training routine was built up can be found here.
Just before the experiment started, halfway through, and at the end of the 20 weeks, the Brazilians got their subjects to complete the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale questionnaire. This measures the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. The best score you can get for both sides is 7; the worst is 49.
The Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale questionnaire also measures the extent of general psychopathology: a broad spectrum of psychological symptoms that almost everyone experiences at some time or other, such as concentration problems, restlessness, feelings of guilt and stress. The best score you can get on the general psychopathology part is 16; the worst is 112.
The scores improved in the two experimental groups. The patients who did strength training showed improvement in particular, as the figure below shows.
The subjects who had combined strength training with cardio workouts also showed some improvement. But this was less pronounced than in the patients who only did strength training.
"Two sessions per week with progressive loading are sufficient to produce benefits. Physical exercise is an important, low-cost therapeutic tool."