How To Use Exercise And Physical Activity In Mental Disorders



How To Use Exercise And Physical Activity In Mental Disorders

There are one in three Americans who will experience anxiety disorders sooner or later. Typical anxiety-associated mental health disorders include panic disorder, OCD, PTSD, and generalized anxiety disorder. There is significant proof that exercise can effectively treat anxiety disorders with severe and longstanding effects. In fact, even in the non-clinical setting, physical activity has been proven to decrease anxiety symptoms. Evidence gathered from epidemiological research shows that individuals who engage in exercise are more likely to develop an anxiety disorder.

Positive Effects Of Exercise On Anxiety

One session of aerobic exercise can produce a potent anxiolytic effect. In a study done in 2015, 40 participants were randomly instructed to finish 30 minutes of aerobic exercise and 30 minutes of stretching activities. After the study, those who finished doing the aerobic exercise solely, without stretching, had a substantial decrease in anxiety and increased stress tolerance. Heightened anxiety sensitivity levels are liked to form and preserve anxiety disorders, especially the participants who had body focus. Hence, exercise seems to be a favorable intervention with instant effects.

Exercises For Managing Anxiety Symptoms

The calming effects of regular physical activity have been observed in several experiments. Noteworthy questions include ‘do various anxiety disorders react to various types of exercise?’ and ‘what type of exercise is most beneficial for decreasing anxiety?’

Proof addressing these queries is equally regulated. There is surging support for the concept that people with panic disorders can profit from aerobic exercise like jogging, specifically as an add-on to psychological treatments. A 2000 study tested the efficacy of resistance and aerobic exercise to manage generalized anxiety disorder and discovered that the participants had the same declines in anxiety following six weeks of intervention. When exercise level was focused, it was found that numerous RCTs have shown a benefit of moderate to intense level compared to low-intensity exercises on alleviating anxiety symptoms.

Thus, an impartial conclusion can be made that exercise seems to be beneficial for anxiety. However, more information is required to identify which type of exercise and what level is most suitable for each personal condition.

Effects Of Exercise On Psychosis


Individuals who are diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychosis have symptoms that include delusions and hallucinations. Primary psychiatric management for schizophrenia are antipsychotics, which are somehow effective at dealing with delusions and hallucinations. However, it is not very effective at dealing with negative symptoms like emotional rigidity, metabolic syndrome, behavioral withdrawal, and anhedonia. Antipsychotics are also linked to side effects that include lipid irregularities, metabolic syndrome, and weight gain, among others. Because of this, compliance with medications is frequently poor.

An increasing research body backs the use of exercise regimens to improve basic management and improve the negative indications in individuals with schizophrenia. Another study was published regarding a review that considers the efficacy of physical therapy interventions for treating schizophrenia. The review was composed of 13 randomized trials that represented 550 participants. Particularly, it reviewed studies that involved aerobic exercises, body awareness strategies, relaxation training, strength exercises, or a combination of all activities. The outcomes clearly indicate that yoga, aerobic, and strength training decrease psychiatric symptoms while enhancing one’s quality of life.

The reviewers established that there is presently adequate scientific proof to confirm that aerobic exercises diminishes negative indications and augments cardiorespiratory fitness.

Exercises For Managing Addiction

There is sufficient evidence to imply that acute exercise involvement can decrease cravings, lessen triggers in heavy tobacco smokers. Exercise can also help people fight their desire to use other illicit substances like psychoactive drugs, alcohol, or high-energy foods. Evidence backing the impact of exercise for individuals with alcoholic problems seems to be varied. Still, the reviewers concluded that physical activity does not seem to decrease alcohol consumption but has substantial positive effects on other health-related outcomes, such as physical fitness and depression.

Exercise For Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder

Individuals with ADHD present symptoms of impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention and are frequently treated with psychosocial therapy in conjunction with medications. It is among the most commonly diagnosed neurodevelopmental diseases in school-aged kids, with a global occurrence rate of more than 5%. Medications are most effective at enhancing behavioral symptoms, productivity, and cognitive functioning, although related side effects like mood shifts and sleep problems.


In 2016, a meta-analysis was published in the Journal of Attention Disorders, which explored the impact of physical activity on kids who met standards for ADHD. Several studies involving 300 participants were part of the analyses, covering an average age of 9.3 years old. There was a difference in outcomes between participants with no-exercise conditions and those who performed mild to moderate forms of physical activity.

The primary collective evidence suggests that short-term to moderate aerobic physical activity based on numerous aerobic formats appears to be effective for alleviating symptoms like hyperactivity, anxiety, social disorders in ADHD kids, executive function, and impulsivity.