HIIT and Mental Health
HIIT, and exercise in general, is known to boost energy, elevate mood and improve overall health and well being. HIIT workouts also benefit patients with mental health conditions, such as chronic schizophrenia. It is one of the most beneficial forms of treatment leading to improved mental health. Not to mention, exercise requires no drugs so benefits carry no negative side effects.
What the research has to say?
Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that involves the separation of emotions, thoughts and behaviors within the sufferer’s mind. It can lead to severe delusions, actions which lack clarity and destructive behavior which can be harmful to the sufferer as well as those near him.
A study carried out by the Department of Psychiatry at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan attempted to assess the effectiveness of HIIT training for those suffering from chronic schizophrenia – on both a physical (fitness) level and on a mental health level . The study focused on a group of 20 individuals over an eight week period. These individuals were volunteers from the psychiatric unit who suffered from chronic schizophrenia. The eight week study followed a program of HIIT training alongside regular progress monitoring within the psychiatric care facility.
Scientists and psychologists who led the study used a variety of techniques to monitor progress such as BMI (body mass index), blood pressure, body weight, waist circumference, resting heart rate, hip circumference and waist to hip ratios. These measurements were collected weekly. Mental health measurements using the Beck Scale of Anxiety and Depression were taken every two weeks.
After the eight week period, results obtained were more significant than expected. Regular HIIT training improved the mental health of 18 out of the 20 individuals. Results included decreases in BMI and resting heart rate. HIIT training led to an immediate strengthening of the body’s circulatory and muscular systems. The positive results didn’t end there – patients also displayed an increase in mental health scores. Values on the negativity scales plummeted and positivity scales increased.
Is HIIT the future of Schizophrenia Treatment?
The results of this study show HIIt training greatly benefits those suffering from chronic schizophrenia. Patients achieved an increased sense of well being and physical fitness. HIIT training exercises may represent the future of schizophrenia treatment.
1. Wu MH, Lee CP, Hsu SC et al. Effectiveness of high-intensity interval training on the mental and physical health of people with chronic schizophrenia. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2015 May 25; 11:1255-63.