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02-02-2010 | Mental health | Article

High prevalence of physical inactivity among adolescents who develop psychosis


Free abstract

MedWire News: Individuals at high risk for psychosis are significantly more likely to be physically inactive than individuals of a similar age who do not develop psychosis, show study findings.

“Low level of physical activity in people with serious mental illness is not necessarily the consequence of the illness itself, but may reflect the general lifestyle of individuals at risk for psychosis,” say Jenni Koivukangas (University of Oulu, Finland) and co-authors.

The researchers assessed self-reported physical activity using a postal questionnaire and measured cardiorespiratory fitness using a submaximal cycle ergometer test, in 6987 adolescents aged 15–16 years. Vulnerability to psychosis was confirmed if individuals had a parent with a history of psychosis, prodromal symptoms of psychosis as measured by the PROD-screen at baseline, or developed psychosis after the field study in 2002–2005.

In total, 122 individuals had a parent with a history of psychosis. Furthermore, 1492 (24%) reported three to five symptoms of psychosis on the PROD-screen questionnaire and 401 (7%) reported more than five.

Koivukangas and team also identified 33 individuals who developed psychosis after field study. Of these, three had a psychotic parent, and of the 25 who completed the PROD-screen questionnaire, 15 (60%) had at least three prodromal symptoms.

Compared with individuals who did not develop psychosis, those who did were 3.3-fold more likely to be physically inactive after adjusting for gender, parental socioeconomic status, family structure, and parent physical activity.

Individuals who reported several prodromal symptoms were more physically inactive than those with few or no symptoms, with 25.4% of patients for 6–12 symptoms, 21.7% for 3–5 symptoms, and 18.6% for 0–2 symptoms.

The researchers also found that a greater proportion of patients who actually developed psychosis were inactive compared with those who did not develop psychosis, at 39.4% versus 20.3%.

Those who developed psychosis were also 2.2 times more likely to have poor cardiorespiratory fitness, although this did not reach significance.

The team concludes: “General recommendations for physical activity would be important for individuals at risk for developing psychosis in order to avoid detrimental effects of physical inactivity on overall health.

“Future research is encouraged to investigate the effectiveness of physical activity in the treatment of mental health problems among adolescents.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Ingrid Grasmo

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