Background: Suicide risk among individuals with schizophrenia (SZ) is intractably high, with over 40% of individuals attempting to take their own lives during their lifetime and an estimated 5–10% completing suicide. At present, available pharmacological and psychotherapeutic treatments offer limited risk reduction benefits, and thus, there remains an urgent need to explore novel interventions that will ameliorate this risk. Aerobic exercise (AE) has been shown to improve a number of predictors of suicide risk (e.g., depressed mood, sleeping difficulties). As individuals with SZ display a highly sedentary lifestyle, AE may reduce suicide risk. Methods: Employing a multi-site, single-blind, randomized clinical trial design, we will examine the impact of AE on risk for suicide and related variables in individuals with SZ. Participants will be randomized to one of two 12-week exercise interventions: AE or a stretching and toning (ST) control intervention. Primary outcome measures will include suicide risk (Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale, C-SSRS) and aerobic fitness (VO2max), along with additional measures of suicide risk, mood, emotion regulation, sleep, cognition, and physical activity, with assessments completed at baseline and after 6 and 12 weeks of interventions. Discussion: It is hypothesized that AE will reduce suicide risk among individuals with SZ. This study may offer support for a more efficacious treatment method for this population in addition to the pre-existing pharmacological and psychotherapeutic treatment regimens. Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov, NCT03270098. Registered on September 1, 2017.
- Aerobic fitness