Journal of Taiwan Occupational Therapy Research and Practice
Objective: Cognitive deficits are commonly seen in individuals with schizophrenia. Numerous studies have shown the effects of physical activity and aerobic exercise on physical fitness in schizophrenia. Recent research has shown that addition of cognitive remediation to physical activity may further improve treatment outcomes due to its impact on neural plasticity. This review aims to address the effect of physical activity on cognitive function and the additive effects of physical activity combined with cognitive training in schizophrenia. Methods: This review searched to include 9 relevant studies that have studied the effect of physical activity and the combined regimens of physical activity and cognitive training on physical and cognitive functions as well as psychiatric symptomology in patients with schizophrenia. Results: Physical activity may improve cognitive function, especially in processing speed, attention/ vigilance and working memory in schizophrenia. However, the effects were found to be little in the aspects of reasoning and problem solving, as well as verbal learning. In addition, physical activity and cognitive training have independent but complementary effects. Physical activity combined with cognitive training may improve negative symptoms, depression, anxiety, and functional performance in daily life situations. Conclusion: This review indicated that physical activity may improve cognitive deficits in patients with schizophrenia. Combining physical activity with cognitive training may activate neuroplasticity, and thus render greater improvements. The responders to such hybrid regimens and possible mechanism of therapeutic change underlying the intervention warrant further scrutiny. Future research based on randomized controlled trial with a sufficient study sample will improve research and knowledge in this area of practice. It is imperative to consider factors relevant to protocol adherence and identify responders to treatment in order to shed light on possible mechanism of change.