September 01, 2005

Exercise Boosts Brain Function

Read more... Schizophrenia Coping

Exercise boosts Cognitive Function

The Wall Street Journal reported this week on how exercise can boost cognitive performance and prevent long term mental decline.

Given the problems in these areas that are common with schizophrenia, this is a good reason to get out and enjoy some daily exercise - even if its just a good walk.

The report suggested:

"the science behind exercise increasingly shows that it provides a short-term boost to the ability to process data, among other functions. Acute bouts of exercise have also been found to reduce depression and anxiety, illnesses that can dampen mental functioning. Over time, exercise has been shown to help ward off the mental effects of aging, perhaps even Alzheimer's.

... a flurry of studies has shown a link between exercise and mental performance. A 2005 study in the Journal of Exercise Physiology looked at how 884,715 fifth-, seventh- and ninth-graders scored on a state-mandated fitness test in California. Then it compared those numbers to the reading and math performance of those students on a standardized achievement test. ... The fittest students had the best test scores. For example, the average math score of students who achieved only three of six fitness goals was 48; kids who achieve all six fitness goals had an average math score of 60."

"Results indicate a consistent positive relationship between overall fitness and academic achievement," said the study. "As overall fitness scores improved, mean achievement scores also improved."

Of course, no researcher is suggesting that exercise can replace intellectual exertion. Rather, it can enhance it.

That effect can be quick. A 2003 article in the journal Acta Psychologica analyzed dozens of studies on the short-term cognitive consequences of exercise. "The empirical data provide compelling support for the view that aerobic exercise can facilitate cognitive functioning," specifically information processing, concluded the article, called "The Effects of Acute Bouts of Exercise on Cognition."


The evidence is even stronger for the long-term benefits of exercise. A study published last September in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that, among more than 18,000 older women studied, those who were most physically active had a 20% lower risk of cognitive impairment. "Long-term regular physical activity, including walking, is associated with significantly better cognitive function and less cognitive decline in older women," the study concluded.

In another study, researchers measured the ability of about 50 senior citizens to distinguish relevant from irrelevant data in a visual exam. The study, published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that aerobic exercise yielded a 20% improvement in performance. "There were substantial effects of exercise on cognition," says Arthur Kramer, a University of Illinois psychology professor and a co-author of that and many similar studies.

Other research has shown that exercise can make the brain act younger. Dr. Kramer, who directs the Biomedical Imaging Center at the University of Illinois, has had seniors undergo magnetic resonance imaging scans before and after six months of aerobic exercise. The results of the tests suggest that exercise produces patterns of brain activity of the sort typically seen in 20-year-olds, Dr. Kramer says.


i am from india schizophrenia in india less as we belive in yoga ,exersises,family relation.

Posted by: rajendra zende4 at January 13, 2007 05:24 AM

i have schizophrenia and i've noticed a drastic improvement in every symptom of my schizophrenia in the 3 weeks ive been walking daily. and even more recently ive been taking half my pills in the morning/afternoon and have seen an improvement in cognition and anxiety

Posted by: Brandon brangre at July 31, 2007 06:12 PM

Exercise had the same effect for me. As a matter of fact, I wonder if an experiment could be designed in which patients are given copious amounts of exercise and then tapered off of some if not all of their pills, perhaps in a hospital setting...

Posted by: ZyprexaCop at February 2, 2008 03:50 PM

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