Intense exercise could prevent side effects of mental illness medication

Intense exercise could prevent side effects of mental illness medication
Exercise prevented the rise in blood glucose levels that typically occurs when taking the medication.

A new study has revealed that a single session of exercise performed just before taking a dose of olanzapine for mental health illness could prevent the medication’s side effects.

The potential side effects of taking a common medication to treat mental illness are weight gain and Type 2 diabetes.

Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the study from the University of Guelph, Canada, investigated how a single session of vigorous exercise could reduce olanzapine-induced hyperglycaemia in male mice.

Olanzapine is an anti-psychotic medication used to treat the mental illness schizophrenia and can cause blood sugar levels to rise with each dose taken.

David Wright, associate professor in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, said: “Acute repeated spikes in blood sugar that you see with each dose of this drug have long-term impacts – and can predispose patients to the development of insulin-resistance Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

Improving life expectancy

Wright added: “If you look at the average life expectancy of an individual with schizophrenia versus someone in the general population, it’s a 20-year gap.
“If we can reduce the side effects associated with blood glucose levels, hopefully we can improve life expectancy and the overall quality of life.”

What did the research discover?

Wright and PhD student Laura Castellani exercised mice by having them run until exhaustion before giving them a dose of olanzapine. What researchers discovered was that exercise prevented the rise in blood glucose levels that typically occurs when taking the medication.

Researchers found that only intense exercise shows these results. When they repeated the test with moderate exercise like a fast jog, blood glucose levels still rose in mice because of the medication.

Despite the findings being encouraging, Wright explained that there are challenges.
He said: “Translating these findings to humans will be difficult, especially considering that patients taking anti-psychotics have a very low level of exercise adherence.

“The next step is to see if we can identify the pathways that are activated during exercise so that we can perhaps target them pharmacologically or nutritionally.”

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