Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Cay Anderson-Hanley




mental health, disorder, illness, schizophrenia, therapy


People suffering from severe mental disorders encounter many debilitating side effects. Those diagnosed with schizophrenia face a large number of challenges each day. Not only must they endure symptoms, like hallucinations and delusions, commonly associated with the illness, but their higher-level cognitive functioning is further impaired in numerous ways. People with schizophrenia, suffering from thought disorder, battle with a pattern of disorganized thinking in which seemingly simple tasks, i.e attention and memory, are difficult. Negative symptoms include the inability to establish social relationships, and hinder their everyday experiences, including work. Their extremely sedentary lifestyle also negatively impacts engagement in other activities. Many medications are currently available for patients seeking medical relief from schizophrenia. Yet, these are known to present various negative side effects of their own, including weight-gain and supposed “disassociation from self”. In response, opponents of drug therapy hope alternative measures can provide such relief, focusing mainly on physical and cognitive exercise programs independently. Studies conducted on the benefits of physical exercise have proven conclusive. They have illustrated effects like increased motor control, improved willingness to participate, weight loss, improved mood state and enhanced self-image. Research conducted by Pajonk and colleagues (2010) identified higher increases in hippocampal volume for patients with schizophrenia completing exercise. Improvements in memory were also greater for this group over the control. As a region of the brain responsible for tasks like memory, attention and navigation, plasticity of the hippocampus provides hope for improvements in such neurological functions. Additionally, review of twenty-five randomized clinical trials conducted by Mead et. al concluded that exercise can improve symptoms like depression as well.