Exercise and Sport in Forensic Psychiatry.

At a Glance

The cooperation project between the University of Konstanz and the forensic department of the Centre of Psychiatry Reichenau aims to evaluate sports therapy in a forensic psychiatric setting. Measures to change the personal and social skills of mentally ill offenders are developed, implemented and evaluated. The focus is on the development of evidence-based measures in order to establish a link between science and practice.


Physical activity has a positive effect on the mental state of an individual, both from a preventive and a therapeutic point of view. For this reason, sports therapy treatment represents an important and independent pillar in the therapy of mentally ill people. Consequently, it can be assumed that patients of forensic psychiatric departments also benefit from sports therapeutic units. 

Nevertheless, there is a considerable lack of scientific evidence regarding the effects of sports therapy units on forensic psychiatric patients, especially with regard to the psychosocial effects. This research project aims to counteract this problem.

Aims of the Project

To what extend can physical activity influence psychological health in a forensic psychiatric context? The initial aim of the project was to determine the status-quo of sports therapy in the forensic psychiatric context. More and more, the focus of the project shifts towards different pathological patterns and the potential of physical activity to influence them. In this project we investigate the impact of sport on mental health and whether it is feasible to implement sport in the clinical process in a forensic psychiatric context.

Methods and Implementation

Sports therapists work with patients on four forensic wards on a weekly basis. They are responsible for the planning, organization and implementation of sports therapy units in individual and group settings in the clinical environment and in certain off-site situations (e.g. cross-country skiing, mountain biking, climbing, etc.). In supervision sessions, experiences are exchanged. These meetings are an important part of the physical activity intervention in order to assess to what extent it can be carried out in a forensic-psychiatric context. They provide an opportunity for the sports therapists and clinical staff to share their experiences with the patients. Furthermore, challenges and solutions regarding the organization of the physical activity intervention are discussed.


This cooperation project between the University of Konstanz and the Centre of Psychiatry Reichenau is funded by the Centre of Psychiatry Reichenau, where the physical activity intervention is realized. The contact person there is PD Dr. Jan Bulla.

Funding (-Period)

The cooperation of the third-party funded project exists from July 2016 to June 2023.