Role of Exercise in Treating PTSD

Most PTSD therapies fall under the umbrella of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The idea is to change the thought patterns that are disturbing your life. This might happen through talking about your trauma or concentrating on where your fears come from.

There is considerable research indicating that exercise can be of significant benefit in reducing anxiety and depression. 

There are far fewer investigations of the role of exercise in reducing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Research suggests that there is a tremendous impact of exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, in reducing PTSD and negative emotional states. A variety of models are reviewed to possibly explain why exercise is so beneficial. 

Those who suffer from PTSD are notoriously treatment avoidant. Exercise is presented as an effective intervention for PTSD, anxiety, and depression, and because it does not produce the level of avoidance that traditional psychotherapies do, it becomes a valuable potential tool for treating PTSD.

Whether or not you have PTSD, regular exercise has a number of benefits. It can contribute to many positive physical health outcomes, such as improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, and greater flexibility and mobility. 

In addition to these physical health outcomes, regular exercise can also have a positive impact on your mental health by reducing anxiety and depression. 

Given the benefits of exercise, as well as the numerous mental and physical health problems experienced by people with PTSD, a regular exercise regimen may have a number of advantages for you if you have PTSD.

Before embarking on any exercise program, it’s important to first check with your doctor to make sure that you do it safely. Your doctor may also be able to help you identify the best exercises given your goals, age, weight, or other physical health problems that you’re experiencing.

One of the most important tools is breathing right! 

It may sound silly, but many people do not breathe properly. Natural breathing involves your diaphragm, a large muscle in your abdomen. When you breathe in, your belly should expand. When you breathe out, your belly should fall.

Over time, people forget how to breathe this way and instead use their chest and shoulders. This causes short and shallow breaths, which can increase stress and anxiety.

Fortunately, it is quite possible to re-learn how to breathe deeply from your diaphragm and help protect yourself from stress.