Post-traumatic stress disorder is a terrible affliction that affects people from all different walks of life. Some get it from being brave soldiers fighting for our country, while others get it after going through any number of traumatic experiences in their life. No matter how someone ends up suffering from this disorder, it’s important to find ways to help people cope with it and live a normal life. One method that doesn’t get talked about near enough is using fitness as a way to treat PTSD. It’s not just as a way to stay healthy but also a way to actually treat and lessen the symptoms of PTSD.
Usually when I talk about fitness being used to treat PTSD, people will look at me a little funny. I promise though that there is legit scientific proof that fitness is in fact helpful in treating PTSD. First off, exercising is good for the entire body, including the brain and helps things operate at a higher level. Along with that exercise releases endorphins, similar to what some refer to as a “runner’s high”. When endorphins are released you will feel better, be in a better mood while also suppressing many of the chemicals that cause anxiety and depression. It will also help you sleep better as well, which helps with insomnia which is a common problem from many who suffer from PTSD. Some have speculated as well that the rise in self confidence that comes from exercising and being in better shape also helps treating PTSD, but there is no concrete evidence of this as of yet.
You may be surprised to learn that there have been numerous studies conducted that prove the effectiveness of exercise for treating PTSD. The best known study was one that was conducted by The University of West Florida, where they followed 14 women who were victims of rape and suffering from PTSD in various degrees. All 14 women went through a 8 week clinical trial of cognitive therapy, but 7 of the women also participated in physical training classes twice a week. At the end of the 8 week trial all the participants were tested and screened, then the final results were compared to their results from the tests before the 8 weeks. They found that all the members in the study experienced improvement in their cognitive abilities but the group that also participated in physical exercise saw an even more increased improvement in their results, compared to just the cognitive therapy group. This has been tested on a larger scale since then, but the results have been the same, physical exercise definitely helps those who are suffering from PTSD.
One study took this a step further and took 20 people suffering from PTSD, and put them through 8 weeks of cognitive therapy treatment and physical training classes twice a week. The difference in this study though was that 10 of the participants were given a BCAA supplement (branched chain amino acids) on top of everything else. They did this because BCAA’s have been shown to not only help physical performance but also increase brain function as well. After the 8 weeks the entire group saw improvement in their cognitive test results but the group that took the BCAA supplement experienced even better results while also testing better in the physical tests as well. If you’re interested in perhaps looking into a BCAA supplement you can check out this website here, they have rated the top brands on the market for you.
There are always more studies being conducted on this very topic and I’m sure we will learn even more information about ways to treat and perhaps even cure PTSD in the future. One thing’s for sure though right now and that is if you’re suffering from PTSD then you should start exercising. You’ll not only get the health benefits but you’ll also find a way to lead a happier and healthier life.