Physical activity can improve mood of people with serious mental illnesses

January 16, 2009

A new study suggests that even the modest levels of physical activity can significantly improve the mood of people with serious mental illnesses (SMI), such as bipolar disorder, major depression, and schizophrenia.

The researchers behind the study say that their study indicates that low levels of physical activity can be a regular part of psychiatric rehabilitation.

“We found a positive association between physical activity level and positive mood when low to moderate levels of physical activity are considered,” said study author Bryan McCormick, associate professor in IU’s Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies.

“Physical activity interventions that require lower levels of exertion might be more conducive to improving transitory mood, or the ups and downs people with SMI experience throughout the day,” he added.

For this study, physical activity is considered most forms of sustained movement, such as house cleaning, gardening, walking for transportation or formal exercise.

The study notes that walking is one of the most frequently advocated forms of physical activity in psychiatric rehabilitation programs.

The study is published in International Journal of Social Psychiatry.

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