Increasingly alarmed by the health risks (that is, weight gain, elevated lipids, and poor glucose tolerance) posed by novel antipsychotic medications, clinicians who treat schizophrenia are attempting to help patients improve lifestyle factors. Unfortunately, schizophrenia research has neglected exercise as a legitimate adjunctive treatment for schizophrenia.
To assess the extent to which stable patients with schizophrenia would adhere to an exercise program if offered access to a fitness facility.
Ten of 20 stable patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder who were treated with olanzapine for at least 4 weeks had the opportunity to receive access to a Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) fitness facility, based on random allocation. The intervention included a free membership to the YMCA for 6 months, with access to all the fitness amenities and equipment. The mean dosage of olanzapine was 11.5 mg daily for the YMCA group.
Of the 10 subjects, 2 did not attend at all. One subject met criteria for full attendance for each of the 6 months and lost 15 kg. Dropout rates were as follows: 90% at 6 months, 70% at 5 months, and 40% at 4 months. The main reason they gave for poor attendance was lack of motivation. The mean weight gain was 2 kg in the YMCA group.
Most subjects did not regularly exercise or attend. They cited poor motivation as the main reason. The subject who exercised regularly lost a significant amount of weight.