Researchers from Brown Medical School studied the impact of a 12-week aerobic exercise program on reducing symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and found significant benefits 6 months after the program ended..

Researchers from Brown Medical School in Providence, RI studied the impact of aerobic exercise as an adjunctive intervention for reducing the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Fifteen patients (53% male; mean age = 44.4 years) receiving behavioral therapy and/or medication for OCD but who still demonstrated significant OCD symptoms (as measured by the Yale-Brown obsessive compulsive scale) were enrolled in a 12-week moderate-intensity exercise program. Measures of OCD symptom severity were obtained at baseline, at the end of treatment, and at 3-week, 6-week, and 6-month follow-up.

Study findings at the end of the 12-week program indicated a beneficial effect (Cohen''s d = 1.69) on reduction in OCD symptom severity. Further, the reductions in OCD symptom severity appeared to persist 6 months later. Additionally, subjects’ improvement in overall sense of well-being was observed after the 12-week intervention. Results of this study suggest that a randomized clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of this 12-week aerobic exercise intervention is warranted.

Citation: Brown RA, Abrantes AM, Strong DR, Mancebo MC, Menard J, Rasmussen SA, Greenberg BD. A pilot study of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for obsessive compulsive disorder. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disorders. 2007 Jun; 195 (6): pages 514-20.