Physical activity is an important aspect of good health for everyone; it is even more important for psychiatric patients who usually live an unhealthy lifestyle. In recent years, there has been growing focus on the use of soccer as a vehicle to improve the health of subjects with severe mental illness. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of soccer practice on the self-reported health quality of life (SRHQL) and sports performance (SP) in psychotic subjects. Eighteen male patients with diagnosis of schizophrenia were randomized into either a trained (TG) or a control group (CG). The TG was trained for 12 weeks using two soccer training sessions per week. The CG did not perform any regular sports activity during the experimental period. Anthropometric measurements, SRHQL, personal time records in a 30 meter sprint test and slalom test running with a ball were evaluated before and after the experimental period. SRHQL was assessed using Short Form-12 questionnaire measuring physical and mental component summary scores. After the training period, the TG showed a relevant decrease by 4.6% in bodyweight (BW) and body mass index compared to baseline. Conversely, the CG showed an increased BW and body mass index by 1.8% from baseline to posttest. Moreover, after 12 weeks we found that control patients increased their BW significantly when compared to trained patients (Δ = 5.4%; P < 0.05). After the training period, comparing the baseline TG's Short Form-12-scores to posttest results, we found an improvement of 10.5% and 10.8% in physical component summary and mental component summary, respectively. In addition, performances on the 30 meter sprint test and slalom test running with a ball in the TG improved significantly (P < 0.01) from baseline to posttest when compared to CG. Soccer practice appears able to improve psychophysical health in individuals with diagnosis of schizophrenia. Indeed, our study demonstrated that programmed soccer physical activity could reduce antipsychotic medication-related weight gain and improve SRHQL and sports performance in psychotic subjects.
Keywords: exercise; mental illness; psychotic subjects; schizophrenia; soccer; sport.