Antipsychotics and physical activity

This page gives information on antipsychotics and physical activity. 

This information is for people affected by mental illness in England who are 18 or over. It is also for their carers, friends, and relatives.

We are soon hoping to update this information after working with experts by experience.

What are antipsychotics?

Antipsychotic medications are usually used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. But they can also be used to treat bipolar disorder and depression.  All of these things are mental illnesses. 

For more information see our webpages on the following:

Is weight gain a common side effect of antipsychotics?

Different antipsychotics can have different side effects.  You can read more about the different types of side effects of antipsychotics here.

But weight gain is common with all antipsychotics. 

Clozapine and olanzapine are the most likely antipsychotics to cause weight gain. Followed by chlorpromazine, quetiapine, and risperidone. 

What are some of the risks of weight gain for people taking antipsychotics?

If you live with schizophrenia, compared to the general population:  

  • you are at 2 to 3 times greater risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), so
  • on average you are expected to live 10 to 20 years less. 

You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are taking antipsychotic medication. 

For more information see our webpage on:

You might be diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other psychosis. NHS England say you should receive a full physical health check each year from a medical professional. Like your GP or a practice nurse. 

This can help check for the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and other things.

For more information see our webpage on:

But physical activity can help you keep a healthy weight or lose weight. It can also:

  • make you fitter,
  • help you to build strength and muscle, and
  • keep your joints supple.

What physical activity can I try?

Please see our information on physical activity and mental health.  

It has lots of information on what physical activity you can try. And what support and organisations are available. 

What if my illness means there are barriers to me trying physical activity?

The mental illness you live with means there might be barriers to you trying physical activity. Like, if you live with schizophrenia, the negative symptoms might mean you find it hard to get motivated. 

Or you might live with a physical health condition or disability. 

Please see our information on physical activity and mental health for advice and information on these things.  

If you are socially isolated, you might find it harder to try physical activity. You can get advice and information on things you could try to become more socially included in our page:

If I smoke tobacco, what can I do to cut down or stop?

If you live with schizophrenia, you are more likely to smoke tobacco, compared to the general population. 

Smoking affects the way some antipsychotic medicines work. So, you might need higher doses of them if you smoke. 

Stopping smoking can help you live longer. It lowers your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung conditions. 

If you want more information on cutting down or stopping smoking, see our webpage on:


Broken links?

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Incorrect information?

All the information on this webpage was correct, to the best of our knowledge, when we published it. If you think any information is incorrect you can help us by emailing us at Many thanks.

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© Rethink Mental Illness 2024

Last updated May 2024
Next update May 2025

Version number 1