Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a frustrating condition for both those who suffer from OCD and those who interact with an OCD sufferer on a daily basis. While obsessive-compulsive disorder can manifest in many forms, it is an anxiety disorder generally characterized by unwanted thoughts (obsessions) that lead to repetitive, compulsive behaviors (compulsions).
For example, an OCD sufferer may experience intense stress when objects aren’t organized in a particular manner or facing the same way, leading them to spend considerable time ensuring the objects are in “perfect” order. Someone with OCD may fear their door is never properly locked, causing them to recheck to door handle over and over, even when they’ve locked it.
Psychotherapy and medication are the two primary treatment options for OCD. But what about exercise? Could something as simple as physical activity impact OCD? Yes, suggests recent research. In a study published in General Hospital Psychiatry, researchers reported that OCD sufferers who participated in 12 weeks of supervised, moderate-intensity aerobic exercise showed a “significant reduction in OCD symptom severity, depression and anxiety” compared to OCD sufferers who participated in 12 weeks of health education sessions only. And of course, cardiorespiratory fitness improved dramatically in the aerobic exercise group as well. Now that’s a win-win for health and wellness!