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Is Exercise Good For OCD?

The question, "Is exercise good for OCD?" is one I hear often.


Let's start with the first piece:


"Is exercise good?".  We know the answer to that.  Of course it is!  Exercise is great for your physical and mental health, for many reasons.


As for anxiety, exercise can reduce "stress".  And stress can increase or trigger anxiety.  So, exercise can indirectly reduce some general anxiety.


However, exercise cannot and will not decrease obsessions or compulsions.  These symptoms of OCD require specific CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) strategies to overcome them.


The neurobiological causes of OCD notwithstanding, it makes logical sense that exercise cannot reduce these symptoms of OCD.  Simply put, exercise (this includes yoga too) cannot resolve obsessions or specific fears related to obsessive thought.  For that matter, exercise (again, this includes yoga too) cannot resolve panic attacks or phobias either.


The only successful method for decreasing fear and overcoming it is to face it.  Regarding CBT for obsessions and compulsions, the work is done gradually.  Small steps build confidence while helping the brain adapt to fear.


All of the above is not meant to say that exercise will be of no benefit to those with OCD.   Consistent exercise can be empowering for the fear-facing journey ahead.  And as stated, it can reduce stress, which when left unchecked, can increase OCD symptoms.


So, by all means, get some exercise!   But if you struggle with OCD, panic attacks or panic disorder and phobias, don't waste your time hoping exercise will resolve your symptoms.

More Testimonials

The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management gave me the tools to change my life! As long as I can remember I had suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. I was in and out of therapy for 20+ years. The world had become a scary place, and it kept shrinking. I didn’t understand what was happening internally until I saw the show Obsessed. It clicked, and I saw a new treatment that could maybe make a difference. I did research and learned that not only was there a term for my phobia, but it was way more common than I could imagine. I started individual therapy at The April Center. We took everything slowly, going at my own pace, but the more I did, the better I felt, and the more I wanted to do. Thanks to Dr. April and The April Center, I was completely present at my wedding, which is the best gift ever! Now I am outside of my head, and enjoying things as I should!

Laura, Design Assistant, North Hollywood

Since working with Dr. April, my teenage son has experienced rapid change and has made great strides in self-confidence. Dr. April is gifted in his work and is an inspiration to those fortunate to connect with him. He is not only an excellent psychologist, but a mentor as well.

- Julia, Consultant, CoeurAlign Design

I had suffered from intense, debilitating anxiety and severe panic attacks for 8 months before I contacted Dr. Craig April. I had seen several specialists, invested in books and recorded programs and even completed an outpatient program, yet I was still suffering. I thought I would never be "normal" again. It was not until I met Dr. April that I finally realized I could overcome my fears. He presented everything in a compassionate, straight forward and understandable new way that really made sense and put me in control. From the first contact I had with him I knew that there was something different. He took time to speak with me at length on our first phone conversation and gave me hope that I could be well again.

After only one session with him I felt better and learned powerful techniques to take care of myself. After the second session I was confident enough to take two trips back East and handle my anxiety with no problem. Before meeting with Dr. April I could barely leave the house. Today I consider myself recovered and not only am I "normal" again but I am better and stronger than I was before the anxiety disorder. I continue to recommend Dr. April to anyone that needs help with anxiety or panic and feels that there is no hope. There is.

- Marcy, married executive, Los Angeles

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