Physical exercise is increasingly recognized as an important component of psychiatric care, although the feasibility of implementing exercise in residential care settings is not well understood. We evaluated the feasibility of a 10-week intervention of weekly fitness classes (delivered by a personal trainer) and other exercise activities using a mixed-methods approach. This was offered to across four residential care services, to all 51 residents who had severe mental illness (SMI). Of these, 27.5% consented to the exercise intervention. Participants averaged 87.6 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per-week, although fitness classes were poorly attended, and 35.7% dropped-out over 10 weeks. Of those who completed the intervention, increased physical activity was associated with significantly reduced negative symptoms. In conclusion, implementing exercise interventions in residential psychiatric care is challenging; given that supervised exercise classes may not be appealing to many residents, while unsupervised exercise is poorly adhered to. Future interventions should consider that better tailored exercise programs are required to adequately confront motivational issues, and to account for participant preference in order to increase engagement.
- physical health
- Physical activity