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Exercise and PTSD: What You Need to Know

June is national PTSD awareness month, and, as a veteran, I know the hardships that PTSD brings along. Traumatic experiences can literally change our physiology, and, when that happens, it is difficult to overcome. Everyday life becomes hard and things that most people can handle, such as sights, smells, or thoughts, can cause people with PTSD to experience flashbacks, and throw them into a mix of intense emotions that could severely hurt themselves or others.

If you or someone you love is struggling with PTSD, you know that it can make it hard to live a happy, healthy life. You may have even tried different types of individual and group therapy without success.

But what if you could alleviate PTSD symptoms with an exercise regimen? Research has shown that regular exercise can improve mental health, even PTSD.

Connection Between PTSD and Exercise

Approximately one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD during their lifetime. The symptoms of PTSD vary for each individual. If you are struggling with PTSD, you should reach out for help. Support structures are immensely important in helping to overcome symptoms of PTSD, and get you as closely back to a normal life as possible. 

PTSD symptoms may include: 

Recurring memories of the traumatic eventBeing hyperaware of potential danger
Frequent flashbacks of the eventDrinking too much
Dreams or nightmares about the eventDifficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
Avoidance behavior (people or places that remind you of the eventUnable to concentrate or focus
Low self-esteem or feelings of self-loathing Feeling irritable or angry
Feeling hopeless

Every case of PTSD is different, but if you are experiencing symptoms, and a doctor has cleared you to start on a program, an exercise regimen could help you feel and function better.

Take, for example, the story of Nell, a paramedic struggling with PTSD for years before discovering how exercise could help her physically and psychologically.

Or the story of Elmer Ugarte – an Iraq war veteran who started playing rugby to manage loneliness and to feel a sense of camaraderie. There are plenty of examples of PTSD survivors that have found physical activity an important part of healing.

Type of Exercise for PTSD

PTSD treatment usually includes a combination of psychotherapy and sometimes medication. However, adding exercise to your treatment plan could also be effective. When you exercise, your body releases hormones that make you feel happy. Arnold famously spoke about the ‘pump’ of endorphins that flood your system, leading to a release of dopamine, but that isn’t all.

The chemical mixture your body makes in reaction to exercise just makes you feel better. Hitting a heavy bag, lifting something heavy, or even a relaxing yoga session all help your body to remove various stressors and release built up tension.

Whether you choose an intense spin class or a relaxing yoga class, it can boost your mood.

If you want to start an exercise routine, pick something you think you’ll enjoy. You can try weightlifting, hiking, running, or boxing and see how it makes you feel. It may not be able to cure the complex PTSD symptoms you’re experiencing, but it can help, especially if you do it along with someone else. Bring a buddy, find a trainer, or join a public class. You won’t regret the extra company that can help motivate you.

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends at least 150 to 300 minutes weekly of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 75 to 150 minutes weekly of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Sticking to this guideline will help you get started on your journey towards better physical and mental health.

Let us help you out.

Dealing with PTSD is challenging. And if you’ve found that traditional forms of treatment haven’t helped, maybe it’s time to consider adopting a new exercise program. As a veteran, I am incredibly aware of the effects PTSD has on people. With at LEAST 22 veterans committing suicide a day due to various issues, including PTSD, and the overall mental health of people in the United States on the decline, it is imperative we do everything we can to get people as much help as possible.

At CONDITIONerd we are here to help you achieve better physical and mental health through exercise. Check out the plans we offer to our customers and see if you could benefit from working with our team. And if you have questions, you can always contact a CONDITIONerd team member

Personal trainers, like those found here, can help guide you on your pathway towards reaching your fitness goals, whether that is getting bigger, stronger, faster, more lean, or just generally feeling better.

We can get you setup with a periodized workout plan, supplement information, and advice on nutrition to help you reach your goals.

The only thing you need is some motivation and a willingness to change some old habits.

Get into contact with us to find out what membership is right for you. In a CONDITIONerd program, you’ll be surrounded by others who can help you to get where you want to be.

Generally, our clients start to see some pretty awesome changes in 2-3 months time, some sooner.

Give Us A Try

Have a fitness goal, but need some help?