Benefits of Exercise for PTSD

Hello!  This subject touches my heart because I’m an Army vet of 20 years. Although I didn’t see any combat, I feel for fellow vets coping with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  I also empathize with anyone dealing with PTSD, because it’s not just people who served in combat that can suffer from it.

Benefits of Exercise for PTSD

Actually, anyone who’s trying to recover from any mental or physical traumatic experience can have it.

This could include things such as physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.  It could also be something like a natural disaster or serious accident.

Studies have shown exercise can effectively treat symptoms of PTSD.  So today I’d like to discuss the benefits of exercise for PTSD.

People suffering from PTSD can experience anxiety, insomnia, flashbacks of the event, depression, high blood pressure, paranoia, fear, hallucinations, and respiratory problems.  They may suffer from other problems, but these are many times the most common.

Anyone that has PTSD should seek a doctor for treatment, and use exercise as a tool to enhance their health.  Also, they should check with their doctor before exercising to rule out any exercises that might make their symptoms worse.  Research has shown that 150 minutes of exercise per week can help relieve many symptoms of PTSD.

How Exercise Helps PTSD

1. Endorphins – Endorphins are chemicals in the brain, that when released make you feel better and put you in a good mood.  Exercise helps release these chemicals to relieve stress.

2. Adrenaline – People suffering from PTSD can be hyper-sensitive to their surroundings causing adrenaline to be released.  Exercise causes the body to use the adrenaline in a positive way and metabolize extra adrenaline.

3. Mind – The physical activity clears their mind by keeping them focused on the movements at hand.

4. Control – Working out helps them feel more in control of their situation.  This relieves a little anxiety and other symptoms.

5. Blood Pressure – Exercise lowers blood pressure that can be associated with PTSD.

6. Weight – Some PTSD sufferers become sedentary so physical activity is a way to control their weight.

7. Memory – Exercise improves overall brain function which can lead to a better memory.  Many PTSD patients can suffer memory loss as a result of suppressing traumatic events.

8. Sleep – Working out helps people sleep better so it can be beneficial in relieving insomnia.

9. Depression – Exercise has been found to alleviate symptoms related to depression.

Benefits of Exercise for PTSD

Forms of Exercise

Studies have shown running and treadmills seem to work really well in treating PTSD.  The person can control their speed doing these activities and they’re great for releasing endorphins.  Many people with PTSD suffer from disassociation with emotions.

Therefore, yoga combined with meditation also seems to be effective.  The yoga helps relieve tight muscles as well which helps with managing stress.  Sometimes group training is a good option because the person can exercise with others.

This way people are able to encourage and motivate them.  Also, working out outdoors helps some with respiratory problems.  For others, it’s a more relaxed environment which is also beneficial.

Summary – Combining exercise with proper medication, healthy nutrition, and therapy someone suffering from PTSD should feel better over time.  David Murtagh, a Senior Occupational Therapist with the Invictus Games Foundation wrote a great article on how exercise can help PTSD.  If you’d like to see the article please click here.

If you have any comments you’d like to share or any questions please let me know and I will get back to you.  Thanks for your time and have a great day!

Jon


 

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