Effects of an 8-Week Aerobic Dance Program on Health-Related Fitness in Patients With Schizophrenia

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Background:Both psychiatric symptoms and the side effects of medication significantly affect patients with schizophrenia. These effects frequently result in a sedentary lifestyle and weight gain, which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death.Purpose:This study developed an aerobic dance program for patients with schizophrenia and then evaluated the effect of this program on health-related fitness outcomes.Methods:An experimental research design was used. Sixty patients with schizophrenia were recruited from a daycare ward and rehabilitation center at a psychiatric hospital in Taiwan. Paticipants were assigned randomly into an experimental group, which received the 8-week aerobic dance program intervention, and a control group, which received no intervention. All of the participants were assessed in terms of the outcome variables, which included bodyweight, body mass index, muscular endurance, flexibility, and cardiorespiratory endurance. These variables were measured before the intervention (pretest) as well as at 8 weeks (posttest) and 12 weeks (follow-up) after the intervention. This study used a generalized linear model with a generalized estimating equation method to account for the dependence of repeated measurements and to explore the effects of the intervention on health-related fitness outcomes.Results:Twenty-six participants were in the experimental group, and 28 were in the control group. Significant between-group differences were observed at posttest and in the follow-up for all of the health-related fitness outcomes with the exception of muscular endurance.Conclusions/Implications for Practice:This study suggests that an 8-week aerobic dance program may be an effective intervention in patients with schizophrenia in terms of improving bodyweight, body mass index, flexibility, and cardiorespiratory endurance for a period of at least 4 months. Furthermore, although muscular endurance was postively affected during the short-term period, the benefits did not extend into the follow-up examination. On the basis of these findings, aerobic dance is recommended as a nonpharmacological intervention for patients with schizophrenia who are in daycare or rehabilitation settings.

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