Physical activity can help reduce cardiovascular disease and premature mortality risk in people with psychological problems, scientists say.

The study by researchers from King’s College London in the UK examined whether complying with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations of 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous exercise per week is related to psychotic symptoms or the diagnosis of a psychosis.

The results indicated, on a multinational level across low-and middle-income countries, that a diagnosis of psychosis is associated with physical inactivity, especially among males.

The study also demonstrated that psychotic-like symptoms without a diagnosis of serious mental disorders do not appear to be associated with physical inactivity.

Across the entire population, the prevalence of people getting less than 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous physical activity was 26.9 per cent, researchers said.

Overall, the prevalence of low physical activity was 24.3 per cent in people with psychotic-like symptoms and no diagnosis and 33 per cent in people with a diagnosis of a serious mental disorder.

The prevalence of low physical activity in people without any psychological problems was 27 per cent.

Compared to those without a diagnosis of a psychological condition, patients with a diagnosis of psychosis were more likely to be physically inactive in the overall sample and in males while this was not observed in females.

People with psychotic disorders are among the most inactive clinical populations, spending on average almost 13 hours a day engaging in sedentary behaviour, researchers said.

The data from the World Health Survey was a cross-sectional survey carried out in 70 countries between 2002 and 2004.

Using a mailed survey and interviews, participants were asked how many days over the past week, on average, they engaged in moderate and vigorous physical activity.

Researchers also asked participants how much time they spent engaged in physical activity at a moderate and vigorous level.

"Our data provide the first multi-national evidence that people with psychosis are less likely to achieve the recommended physical activity guidelines," said Brendon Stubbs from King’s College.

"Importantly, our data also offer a novel insight into the potential factors which influence physical activity levels in males with psychosis, who were not only most likely not to achieve the recommended physical activity levels, but are also more likely to die early due to cardiovascular disease," said Stubbs.

The findings were published in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin.