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Exercise practices in individuals at clinical high risk of developing psychosis


  • Stephanie Deighton,

    1. Department of Neuroscience, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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  • Jean Addington

    Corresponding author
    1. Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Department of Psychiatry, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    • Corresponding author: Dr Jean Addington, Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education, University of Calgary, 3280 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 4Z6. Email:

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Recent research suggests aerobic exercise has a positive impact on symptoms and cognition in psychosis. Because individuals with psychosis are at risk of weight gain and the resultant metabolic side-effects, developing effective exercise programmes is of interest. Furthermore, this may be a useful intervention for those who are at risk of developing psychosis, that is, those at clinical high risk (CHR). The aim of this initial exploratory project was to examine the role of exercise in participants at CHR for psychosis.


A comprehensive questionnaire was developed to assess current physical activity involvement; exercise levels in terms of frequency, intensity and duration; and perceived fitness levels. Reported barriers to exercise and reasons for exercising were also considered. Eighty participants, 40 CHR and 40 healthy controls, were assessed with this questionnaire.


Overall, both groups were involved in a wide range of physical activity. Healthy controls reported higher levels of participation in indoor/outdoor activities and strength and/or flexibility training. They also exercised more frequently, more intensely and reported higher perceived fitness levels than CHR participants. Levels of exercise were unrelated to clinical symptoms and functioning in CHR participants. CHR youth reported more barriers to exercise and less positive reasons for exercising that were related to self-perception.


The results suggest that exercise should be investigated further in the CHR population as it may have treatment implications.