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Minerva Psichiatrica 2013 March;54(1):71-82


language: English

Efficacy of six months physical activity on exercise capacity in patients with mental disorders (resident in a community service)

Vitacca M. 1, Paneroni M. 1, Comini L. 2, Bianchi L. 1

1 Respiratory Unit, Fondazione Salvatore Maugeri, IRCCS, Lumezzane, Brescia, Italy; 2 Health Directorate, Fondazione Salvatore Maugeri, IRCCS, Lumezzane, Brescia, Italy


Aim: The aim of this paper was to evaluate the long-lasting effects of physical activity on exercise capacity in patients with mental disorders within a Community Residential Service.
Methods: Eleven patients underwent tri-weekly sessions of a structured program of physical training for a period of 6-months (T6) followed by a 6-month period of program discontinuation (T12). During physical training patients performed different types of exercises mainly identified as free walking and gym sessions. At the end of the structured physical training, a period of discontinuation was proposed. During this time patients were free to choose whether to continue physical activity alone or stop altogether. Six-minute walking test (6MWT), body weight, waist circumference, steps counts, and quality of life were evaluated in all patients at baseline (T0), T6 and T12. At T6 adherence, training effect during different physical activities (free walking and gym sessions), and patients and counsellors satisfaction were also measured.
Results: Six-minute walking distance increased significantly at T6 vs. T0 (+ 69 (SD57) meters; P<0.002), this increase was maintained at T12. Heart rate (P<0.02) and oxygen saturation (P<0.03) significantly improved only at T6. Patients attended 82.5% of walking sessions and 63% of gym sessions. Walking offered the best training effect. Satisfaction with the program by both patients and counsellors was high.
Conclusion: In patients with mental disorders, a structured 6-month supervised physical activities program improves exercise tolerance mainly through walking with high adherence. This gain is maintained for a long time. Physical training is well accepted by both patients and counsellors.

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