High velocity circuit resistance training improves cognition, psychiatric symptoms and neuromuscular performance in overweight outpatients with severe mental illness
We developed a physical exercise intervention aimed at improving multiple determinants of physical performance in severe mental illness. A sample of 12 (9M, 3F) overweight or obese community-dwelling patients with schizophrenia (n=9) and bipolar disorder (n=3) completed an eight-week, high-velocity circuit resistance training, performed twice a week on the computerized Keiser pneumatic exercise machines, including extensive pre/post physical performance testing. Participants showed significant increases in strength and power in all major muscle groups. There were significant positive cognitive changes, objectively measured with the Brief Assessment of Cognition Scale: improvement in composite scores, processing speed and symbol coding. Calgary Depression Scale for Schizophrenia and Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale total scores improved significantly. There were large gains in neuromuscular performance that have functional implications. The cognitive domains that showed the greatest improvements (memory and processing speed) are most highly predictive of disability in schizophrenia. Moreover, the improvements seen in depression suggest this type of exercise intervention may be a valuable add-on therapy for bipolar depression.