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The benefits of walking for individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders: A systematic review

The benefits of walking for individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders: A systematic review

Soundy, Andrew, Muhamed, Ahmad, Stubbs, Brendon, Probst, Michel and Vancampfort, Davy (2014) The benefits of walking for individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders: A systematic review. International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, 21 (9). pp. 410-420. ISSN 1741-1645 (doi:

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Aim: Walking is a popular type of physical activity in individuals with schizophrenia – yet the benefits remain unclear. The aim of this review was to investigate if walking can a) reduce weight and b) have a positive influence on other health parameters in individuals (aged 16 years and over) with schizophrenia spectrum disorders in in- or outpatient settings.

Methods: A systematic review in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyse (PRISMA) statement was conducted. Major electronic databases were searched from inception to January 2014. Articles were eligible that: considered the effect of a walking intervention; had included at least 75% of the intervention programme as walking rather than another type of physical activity; considered patients formally diagnosed using standard criteria of schizophrenia or schizo-affective spectrum disorders; and used outcome measures that captured the patient's bio-psychosocial health. Two independent authors conducted the searches, extracted data and completed methodological quality and risk of bias assessment.

Results: A total of 10 trials from three countries were included (n=339). Selection, detection and performance biases were identified consistently within the research. There is some evidence to suggest walking interventions may benefit an individual's weight, specifically resulting in small reduction in body mass index or body fat in the short term. Evidence for other health outcomes was limited but no adverse events were reported and walking appears to be safe. The data did not provide enough information for a meta-analysis to be conducted.

Conclusion: Walking is a popular and safe form of physical activity among individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders. No harmful effects were reported and small, short-term weight reduction was identified. However, the results may not be clinically meaningful and should be viewed with caution due to the medium-to-high risk of bias. The broader benefits of walking are yet to be established. Despite the methodological limitations in the literature, walking should be encouraged in clinical practice but clinicians may need to adopt motivational strategies to increase adherence.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: schizophrenia, mental illness, physical activity, walking, exercise
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > School of Human Sciences (HUM)
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2016 11:01

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