Curr Behav Neurosci Rep. 2016 Jun;3(2):165-175
Schizophrenia is characterized by extensive neurocognitive deficits, which are linked to greater disability, poorer functional outcome, and have been suggested to impact daily functioning more than clinical symptoms. Aerobic exercise (AE) has emerged as a potential intervention. This review examines the impact of AE on brain structure and function along with neurocognitive performance in individuals with schizophrenia. Preliminary evidence indicates that AE can increase hippocampal volume and cortical thickness, in addition to exerting a neuroprotective effect against hippocampal volume decrease and cortical thinning. There is also evidence that AE is able to significantly increase serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels, which are implicated in neurogenesis, neuroplasticity, and cognitive improvement. Finally, evidence suggests that AE plays a significant role in improving overall cognition, including improvements in processing speed, working memory, and visual learning. The authors discuss the implications of the findings and provide recommendations for future research and areas of inquiry.