Base rates of physical activity in Australians with schizophrenia

Psychiatr Rehabil J. Spring 2009;32(4):269-75. doi: 10.2975/32.4.2009.269.275.


Objective: To determine the patterns of physical activity in Australians with schizophrenia and compare them to the general Australian population.

Methods: People with a DSM-IV diagnosis of schizophrenia (n=125) provided self-report BMI data and descriptions of the type, intensity, and duration of their physical activity during the previous week. This data was compared to population norms from the Active Australia Survey. The Health of the Nation Outcome Scales (HoNOS) and Kessler-10 (K-10) were used to screen for the presence and severity of psychopathology and functional disturbance.

Results: Excess body weight was more prevalent in study participants than the general population with 70% being over-weight or obese. Half of the sample participated in sufficient physical activity in the previous week, a proportion similar to the general Australian population. The study participants reported more sessions of walking and moderate activity than the general population, but less time in vigorous activity. There were no differences between participants who had engaged in sufficient physical activity and those who did not, on BMI and psychological distress.

Conclusions: Despite similar levels of physical activity to the general population, more of the people with schizophrenia were overweight. This suggests that their current activity levels may be insufficient to counteract other causes of excess weight such as diet and medication side effects. If replicated, these data suggest that weight control through exercise for people with schizophrenia will require either a substantial increase in vigorous activity or an overall activity level that exceeds the general population norm.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Physical Exertion
  • Prevalence
  • Schizophrenia / epidemiology*
  • Self Disclosure