Background: People with severe mental illness (SMI) frequently have poor physical health, which can in part be related to a low level of physical activity. The goal of this exploratory study was to examine the efficacy of a group participating in Baduanjin (a type of traditional Chinese exercise) on the health of individuals with SMI and the feasibility/ acceptability of using short message service (SMS) reminder strategies to prompt continued exercise during a follow-up period. Method: Participants (N=11) participated in a Baduanjin group session for 8 weeks and then maintained home-based Baduanjin with SMS reminders for another 8 weeks. Physical and psychological tests were administered to participants. Results: Significant improvements were found in balance and processing speed and in some domains of the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) after the Baduanjin program. Participants were able to maintain engagement in 80% of the expected practice time during the follow-up period. The acceptability of strategies to support home-based exercise, including SMS reminders, was high. Conclusions: This preliminary study suggested the efficacy of Baduanjin and the feasibility of SMS reminders in maintaining follow-up participation in people with SMI. Future studies using a larger sample size and a control group are needed to confirm the findings.
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