Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects many people around the world, causing distress after experiencing traumatic events. While exposure therapy is a common treatment for PTSD, it doesn't work for everyone. However, a clinical trial conducted in Sydney, Australia, offers a promising way to improve PTSD treatment. By adding a short exercise routine to exposure therapy, researchers found that it can lead to significant reductions in PTSD symptoms and better long-term results.
In this trial, researchers worked with 130 adults diagnosed with PTSD. They split the participants into two groups. The first group received exposure therapy, which helps people confront their traumatic memories in a safe way, along with 10 minutes of aerobic exercise. The second group had exposure therapy with 10 minutes of gentle stretching exercises. The severity of PTSD symptoms was measured using a scale called CAPS-2, which was done before treatment, one week after, and six months after.
After the six-month follow-up, the group that did aerobic exercise alongside exposure therapy showed much greater improvement in their PTSD symptoms compared to the group that only did stretching exercises. The difference in scores between the two groups was 12.1 points, and this improvement was considered moderate. Importantly, no negative effects were reported from the exercise intervention, showing that it is safe and doable for PTSD treatment.
The trial suggests that adding a short session of aerobic exercise to exposure therapy can make it more effective in reducing PTSD symptoms. This finding is in line with previous research on how exercise can positively affect our ability to learn and overcome fear. By combining exercise with exposure therapy, therapists may help individuals with PTSD experience longer-lasting improvements in their symptoms. The best part is that exercise is simple and affordable, making it an accessible option for many people seeking treatment for PTSD.
Exercise is known to have many benefits for our bodies and minds. In the context of PTSD, it is believed that aerobic exercise can help the brain learn to cope with traumatic memories. By exercising right after exposure therapy, individuals may find it easier to create new, non-threatening associations with their traumatic memories. This can gradually reduce the fear and distress caused by those memories over time.
This clinical trial has given us hope for improving PTSD treatment. By adding a short aerobic exercise routine to exposure therapy, the effectiveness of the treatment can be enhanced and help people with PTSD feel better in the long run. This approach is safe, easy to do, and doesn't cost effective. More research is needed to understand how exercise can be tailored for different people, but this trial is a significant step forward in our understanding of how exercise can benefit individuals struggling with PTSD.