Even though the psychological benefits from regular exercise are well known in the general population, research has only recently begun to examine the impact of physical activity on the mental and physical health of individuals with serious mental illness, including major depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.
Complicating their diagnoses, these individuals often have poor physical health, are less active than the general population, and experience significant psychiatric, social, and cognitive disabilities. Many people with serious mental illness also live with the dual challenge of a psychiatric illness and a serious medical condition such as diabetes, obesity, or hypertension. The high prevalence of obesity is at least as alarming for individuals with serious mental illness as it is for the general population, and individuals who take antipsychotic medication may be at particularly high risk of obesity-related morbidity. On average, people with severe mental illness die 10 to 15 years earlier than the general population. Rates of co morbid illnesses, such as hypertension, diabetes, respiratory disease, and cardiovascular disease, are as high as 60%. This population has a right to healthy lifestyles and programs that promote and support this concept, leading to improved quality of life.
Sanctuary House provides members access to wellness activities that include YMCA sessions and exercise sessions on-site with an instructor. Along with basic aerobic exercise and stretching, we offer yoga classes to improve balance, strength and coordination. While experts note that exercise is unlikely to ever replace medication and psychotherapy for this population, it can increase the likelihood that those traditional strategies will be more effective.
We are particularly proud of our relationship with Rae Anne Mullins of RAM Fitness. Rae Anne provides Wellness Programming and consultation.