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Psychiatr Danub. 2015 Mar;27(1):2-13.

Investigating the benefits of sport participation for individuals with schizophrenia: a systematic review.

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Department of Physiotherapy, School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK,



The purpose of this review was to consider the impact of being introduced to a sport and sport participation on (a) weight loss and psychiatric symptoms, (b) any other health benefits in people with schizophrenia, supported by quantitative and qualitative findings.


A systematic review in accordance with the PRISMA statement was conducted. Searches were undertaken in January 2014. Articles were eligible that (1) considered the effect (quantitative studies) and experience (qualitative and case studies) of either; being introduced to a 'sport' or undertaking a sport activity, (2) included >85% of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizo-affective spectrum disorders according to recognised criteria.


A total of 10 studies including 5 trials (2*pre-experimental, 2*controlled trials, 1*randomised control trial), 2 qualitative studies and 3 case studies were included (n=185). Two out of 3 studies that considered weight as an outcome measure reported significant reductions in weight and psychiatric symptoms following sports participation. The mean reduction in body mass index (BMI) ranged from -0.7kg.m2 (p<0.001) following 12 weeks of basketball to -1.33 kg.m2 (p<0.001) after 12-weeks of soccer. The mean reduction in the Positive and Negative Symptoms score ranged from 2.4 points (F=-19.0, p<0.001) following 12 weeks of basketball to 7.4 points (t=-5.0, p<0.001) following a 40 week programme of horse riding. A range of secondary health and wellbeing outcomes identified some significant results. Qualitative findings showed that participants had positive experiences from participating in sports.


Sport participation may result in reduced BMI and psychiatric symptoms in patients with schizophrenia. Sport has the potential to improve an individual's quality of life through providing a meaningful normalizing activity that leads to achievement, success and satisfaction. Well-designed randomised controlled trials are required to fully determine the health effects of sports participation in schizophrenia.

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