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Cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular flexibility and strength in first-episode schizophrenia patients: use of a standardized fitness assessment


Dr Denise Gretchen-Doorly, UCLA Aftercare Research Program, 300 Medical Plaza, Rm 2213, Los Angeles, CA 90095-6968, USA. Email:


Aim: This study determined the fitness status and examined potential correlates of fitness in first-episode schizophrenia patients using a standardized fitness test protocol.

Methods: A certified fitness instructor administered the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) fitness test to 70 recent-onset schizophrenia participants within 3 months of entry into the study.

Results: Percentile ranks of scores on muscular strength and endurance, muscular flexibility and cardiorespiratory fitness in our sample were all below the 50th percentile when compared with national norms in the United States. As expected, patients with a higher body mass index and those who smoked had poorer cardiorespiratory fitness. A non-significant trend indicated that patients with a longer duration of illness had worse cardiorespiratory fitness. Exposure to antipsychotic medication was unrelated to cardiorespiratory fitness.

Conclusion: Results suggest that physical fitness is impaired and might decline over time in first-episode schizophrenia patients, but this needs to be confirmed in a longitudinal study.