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Association between actigraphy-derived physical activity and cognitive performance in patients with schizophrenia

  • L.-J. Chen (a1) (a2), A. Steptoe (a2), M.-S. Chung (a3) and P.-W. Ku (a2) (a4)



An association between low levels of physical activity and impaired cognitive performance in schizophrenia has been proposed, but most studies have relied on self-report measures of activity. This study examined the association between actigraphy-derived physical activity and cognitive performance adjusting for multiple covariates in patients with schizophrenia.


Patients with schizophrenia (n = 199) were recruited from chronic psychiatric wards, and 60 age-, sex- and body mass index-matched comparison participants were recruited from the staff of two hospitals and universities. Physical activity was assessed objectively for 7 days using an ActiGraph. Cognitive performance was assessed with the Cognitrone test from the Vienna Test System and the Grooved Pegboard Test. Demographic variables, metabolic parameters, positive and negative symptoms, duration of illness and hospitalization, and medication use were included as covariates. Pearson correlations and multivariable linear regressions were conducted to examine the associations between physical activity levels and cognitive performance.


Patients with schizophrenia were less physically active and had poorer performance on attention/concentration and speed of processing than the comparison group. Patients with schizophrenia who spent more time in light physical activity showed better performance on attention/concentration (β = 0.198, p = 0.020) and speed of processing (β= −0.169, p = 0.048) tasks than those who were less active. Cognitive performance was also associated with moderate-vigorous physical activity, but the effect was no longer significant once light physical activity had been taken into account.


This study provides evidence for a positive association between objectively measured light physical activity and cognitive performance in people with schizophrenia, after adjustment for multiple confounders.


Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: P.-W. Ku, National Changhua University of Education, 1 Jin-De Road, Changhua City 500, Taiwan. (Email:


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