Exercise as Therapy for Schizophrenia: An Ethnographic Study

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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As part of the emergence of alternative research paradigms in exercise and sport psychology, we draw upon data from an ethnographic study of 3 individuals with schizophrenia to explore the use of exercise as an adjunct therapy for schizophrenia. A 10-week exercise program of twice-weekly sessions was implemented. Participant observation and interviews with participants and their assigned key-workers were the primary sources of data collection used. The influence of exercise on the lives of participants and their mental health and the underlying mechanisms of change were explored. Our findings indicate that exercise has the potential to help reduce participants’ perceptions of auditory hallucinations, raise self-esteem, and improve sleep patterns and general behavior. The process of exercising, via the provision of distraction and social interaction rather than the exercise itself, was very influential in providing these benefits. In conclusion, we strongly recommend the inclusion of exercise as an adjunct treatment in psychiatric rehabilitation.

Guy Faulkner is with the Department of Physical Education. Sports Science, and Recreation Management at Loughborough University, Loughborough. Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, UK. Andrew C. Sparkes is with the Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, School of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Sciences, at the University of Exeter. Devon, EX1 2LU. UK.

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