A CONTRIBUTION TO DESIGNING EFFECTIVE AND ENJOYABLE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY PROGRAMS FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA

Eluana Gomes, Tânia Bastos, Michel Probst, José Carlos Ribeiro, Gustavo Silva, Rui Corredeira

Abstract


Schizophrenia is one of the most debilitating diseases among psychiatric disorders. Additionally, these individuals present high mortality rates and sedentary lifestyles. Physical activity is an important factor for reducing morbidity and mortality among individuals with schizophrenia. However, to develop motivational strategies to increase the participation of individuals with schizophrenia in physical activity is necessary. The goal of this pilot study was to determine which type of physical activity (walking, dancing and small-sided games) is the most enjoyable and effective for individuals with schizophrenia. Nine outpatients with schizophrenia (men = 5 and women = 4; M = 37.0 yrs., SD = 7.10 yrs.). Different types of physical activity sessions (walking, dancing and small-sided games) were performed. The three sessions occurred during one week with a-one day interval between each session. The duration of each session was of approximately 60 minutes. The walking session consisted in: stretching, walking and breathing exercises. The dance session consisted of: stretching exercises, choreographed dance, free dance, and breathing exercises. The small-sided games session consisted of: stretching exercises, small-sided games (2v2, 3v3, 4v4), basic skills, abdominal exercises and, breathing exercises. Physical activity levels, heart rate and type of PA preferred were assessed. The walking sessions were the most effective (72% of the estimated HRmax). Most of the participants (n = 7) chose the small-sided games session as the most enjoyable. Physical activity programs specifically designed for individuals with schizophrenia should offer both small-sided games and walking. An increase of the sessions’ duration (i.e., to over 60 minutes) can also be suggested in order to increase the time spent in vigorous physical activity.

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