The benefits of physical activity on health are now well described in the general population. More recently, physical activity has also found its place as an adjuvant therapy in severe mental illnesses, particularly in schizophrenia. Physical activity appears to be an original and novel adjunctive therapeutic approach in the management of patients with schizophrenia and would both reduce schizophrenic symptoms and act like pro-cognitive therapy, improves quality of life and long-term functioning in daily life and reduces cardiovascular comorbidities (Trehout el al., Encephale, 2018).
In the present study, we assess the impact of a remoted (via web) adapted physical activity (APA) program on the brain structure and biological and clinical outcomes of patients with schizophrenia compared to healthy subjects (PEPSY study) according to the following design (Trehout et al, Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci, 2021).
The main objective of this randomized controlled clinical trial is to examine whether APA could induce brain plasticity in patients with schizophrenia. We specifically focus on changes in hippocampal volumes between baseline and endpoint (at 16 weeks), with secondary outcomes including cortical thickness, hippocampal N-acetyl aspartate (NAA), and fractional anisotropy of white matter fibers between medial prefrontal cortex and hippocampus.
The efficacy of APA on clinical, neurocognitive, metabolic outcomes and quality of life is also examined. The investigation of the impact of APA on the hippocampal subfields is also be explored in relation with cognitive and functional networks impairments.
PEPSY is co-funded by the Normandy County Council, European Union in the framework of the ERDF-ESF operational program 2014–2020 and is supported by the Pierre Deniker’s Foundation.