Might Exercise Reduce Risk for PTSD?

Experiencing a traumatic event often results in an acute stress response and the lingering memory may lead to mental and physical changes that negatively impact one’s health. This is often diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Previous studies have shown that stress, such as PTSD, can cause changes in chemical factors in the brain that affect health. This investigation, using an animal model, examined whether participation in an exercise program can protect brain function and reduce the occurrence of PTSD. Results showed that sedentary animals, subjected to a traumatic event, experienced a decrease in the expression of these factors and were more anxious and easily startled, in comparison to animals that exercised prior to the event. In addition, the animals that exercised had a greater expression in the factors associated with maintaining normal brain function and, as a result, appeared to have a greater ability to respond to the stressful event.

View the study’s abstract