UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Physical activity preferences of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder Subramaniapillai, Mehala; Arbour-Nicitopoulos, Kelly; Duncan, Markus; McIntyre, Roger S; Mansur, Rodrigo B; Remington, Gary; Faulkner, Guy


Background: Individuals with a severe mental illness (SMI) are at least two times more likely to suffer from metabolic co-morbidities, leading to excessive and premature deaths. In spite of the many physical and mental health benefits of physical activity (PA), individuals with SMI are less physically active and more sedentary than the general population. One key component towards increasing the acceptability, adoption, and long-term adherence to PA is to understand, tailor and incorporate the PA preferences of individuals. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine if there are differences in PA preferences among individuals diagnosed with different psychiatric disorders, in particular schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (BD), and to identify PA design features that participants would prefer. Methods Participants with schizophrenia (n = 113) or BD (n = 60) completed a survey assessing their PA preferences. Results There were no statistical between-group differences on any preferred PA program design feature between those diagnosed with schizophrenia or BD. As such, participants with either diagnosis were collapsed into one group in order to report PA preferences. Walking (59.5 %) at moderate intensity (61.3 %) was the most popular activity and participants were receptive to using self-monitoring tools (59.0 %). Participants were also interested in incorporating strength and resistance training (58.5 %) into their PA program and preferred some level of regular contact with a fitness specialist (66.0 %). Conclusions These findings can be used to tailor a physical activity intervention for adults with schizophrenia or BD. Since participants with schizophrenia or BD do not differ in PA program preferences, the preferred features may have broad applicability for individuals with any SMI.

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