December 12, 2005

Workouts are Potent Medicine for Mentally ill

The New York Times reported this week that Excercise and Workouts Are Potent Medicine for the Mentally Ill

In a story written by ABBY ELLIN, the New York Times stated:

MATTHEW HASS is not sure what caused him to blow up to 300 pounds: his sedentary lifestyle, a diet devoid of fruits or vegetables or the medications he took for bipolar disorder. Not that the cause mattered. Mr. Hass knew he was at a crossroads: at 27 he said he felt like a ''heart attack waiting to happen,'' so he decided to give exercise a chance. ''I was ready to try something else that would help my moods,'' he said, ''and maybe help me lose some weight too.''

Mr. Hass, now 28, began working out with a personal trainer on Fridays, thanks to a program in Keene, N.H., called In Shape that pairs people with severe mental illnesses with mentors to guide them through a fitness regime. For almost a year and a half he also did circuit training and played tennis with his mentor. Since he signed up for In Shape not only has he lost 30 pounds, but he said his moods are steadier.

His experience illustrates why mental health experts increasingly recommend exercise for people with severe mental illness. It helps them stay physically healthy, which is crucial in a population that the surgeon general estimated in 1999 loses on average 15.4 years' life expectancy. And research suggests that by improving mood, exercise can be a beneficial accompaniment to other kinds of treatment for mental illness. While exercise is unlikely ever to replace medication and psychotherapy, experts say, it can increase the likelihood that those traditional strategies will be effective.

Scientists have long known that exercise lifts the spirits of people without mental illness, and hundreds of studies have shown how it can improve the psychological health of those who suffer moderate depression, whether or not they take medication or engage in talk therapy.

But newer research has looked specifically at what good exercise can do for people with conditions like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and severe anxiety disorders. In a recent study at Boston University, for example, 15 previously sedentary patients suffering from mood or psychotic disorders exercised with an instructor three times a week. After three months they reported that their symptoms of depression had lessened, and that they felt a sense of empowerment they had not known before.


At Fountain House in Manhattan people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder get together to do yoga or tai chi three times a week or to walk for an hour or two. Last month McLean Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Belmont, Mass., opened a fitness center with cardiovascular and strength training equipment. Soon yoga and aerobics classes will be added. ''Ideally we'd like them to go most days for an hour,'' said Sally Jenks, the director of business development at the hospital.

In Shape, which began two years ago, is one of the more established exercise programs for the mentally ill. After going to a spate of funerals for relatively young patients, Ken Jue, the chief executive of Monadnock Family Services, a community mental health center in Keene, created the program to help patients lead longer and healthier lives.

''Their physical health is compromised,'' Mr. Jue explained, ''partly due to side effects of prescribed medications, partly due to the impact of mental illness on lifestyle choices, and in part due to economic limitations that many people with mental illness experience.''

Initially he had hoped to attract 40 people; 65 signed up. ...

Source: New York Times. Full Story Here (free registration required) Workouts Are Potent Medicine for the Mentally Ill


it´s so usefull to hear about news that could guide us, i mean mental diseased people it helps a lot because we really need help from all people interested to avoid this illness and i´would be pleased if i could be in touch with other person that´s suffering this ill like me. maybe you can contact me to those persons if it could be possible. i´ll be very thankfull.

thanks a lot.
Ing. Helder Molina

Posted by: Helder Molina at December 13, 2005 01:51 PM

Dear Molina,

you can find many people that you can share your expirience with on the discussion board of this site. You can find it on the home page, to the right, where it says Discussion & Chat boards. The first few are in English and undrneath you can find dicussions in different languages. Hope this helps,

Posted by: maja at December 14, 2005 02:03 AM

LS Being a survivor with sz I am sort of the strongest in the gym, nobody else does his or her abs with 115 kilograms! I believe that people with sz should get about the same lifestyle advice as people with cardiovascular problems. Biologically the heart and arteries are similar to the brain. So stressreduction, healthy diet, fish oil, exercise is the right way to go! Sincerely, Sebastiaan Koning

Posted by: sebastiaan koning at January 13, 2006 11:18 AM

Though it sounds like an advertizing story I think that that could be. Phisical excersises should help to fight at least depression. The cause of many illness is our passive way of life and if to fight the reason off illness it will step away.

Posted by: Gwen at January 25, 2006 08:22 AM

i would like to know about your history and theraphys you take as exercise and other tasks that would improve the mental health in special the illness people like my brother whom has a schizophrenia i am from PERU -LIMA I WILL APRECIATE your advise and help best regards very trully yours

Posted by: jose rios at January 31, 2006 01:58 PM

My son is not going regularly to school for last one and half year. Initially, the doctor told that, this is due to chilhood deprerssion. Now, the doctor says, he is schizophernic. My sons age is 14 years. Can you please suggest some methods for enabling him to go to school.


Posted by: Jhunu at February 2, 2006 12:03 AM

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