Aerobics can help people suffering from schizophrenia to cope with the chronic mental disorder, a new research published Friday showed. Over three million Americans have schizophrenia, a mental disorder characterized by decline in thought processes, perceptions and emotional responsiveness.

For the study, researchers from the University of Manchester examined combining data from 10 independent clinical trials that had 385 total schizophrenia patients. They found that about 12 weeks of aerobics can significantly improve brain functioning of those diagnosed with the disorder.

The research, published in Schizophrenia Bulletin, also showed that exercise program combined with medication can improve overall brain functioning of the schizophrenia patients. Researchers said that working out had positive effect on patients’ ability to understand social situations, their attention spans, and their "working memory," meaning how much information they are able to hold at one time.

“Cognitive deficits are one aspect of schizophrenia which is particularly problematic. They hinder recovery and impact negatively upon people’s ability to function in work and social situations. Furthermore, current medications for schizophrenia do not treat the cognitive deficits of the disorder,” Joseph Firth, study author said, in a statement.

“These findings present the first large-scale evidence supporting the use of physical exercise to treat the neurocognitive deficits associated with schizophrenia. Using exercise from the earliest stages of the illness could reduce the likelihood of long-term disability, and facilitate full, functional recovery for patients,” Firth added.

Three-quarters of people with the disorder develop the illness between 16 and 25 years of age. Although schizophrenia has no cure at present, health experts say treatment with medications and psychosocial therapy can help patients manage the condition.

According to the latest figures, the cost of schizophrenia in the U.S. in 2002 was estimated to be $62.7 billion.