Exercise is a great way to take care of your body, get your heart rate up, and help to reduce the risk of many different diseases. Unfortunately for many PTSD sufferers, exercise gets pushed to the back burner because it often takes too much effort and willpower, two things that are usually in short supply for those with the disorder. In this blog, we’ll discuss a few reasons why exercise is difficult for PTSD sufferers, the benefits of an exercise routine, and how to add a program into your daily life. While exercising is important, taking care of your inner workings and emotions is just as essential to lead an emotionally healthy life. If you find that you’re searching for help and PTSD support, contact Peer Support Central now. Our team of peer support specialists understand what you’re dealing with and want to help you lead a better and more emotionally-healthy life. Call us now for more information about PTSD support.
Why is Exercise Hard For PTSD Sufferers?
Those who have experienced intense trauma and struggle with PTSD are usually not interested in exercising regularly. This is mainly because the bodily feelings that exercise causes are similar to, if not the same, as an anxiety or panic attack. These feelings are usually referred to as “bodily arousal” and include shortness of breath, increased heart rate, sweating, feeling light headed, and muscle fatigue. A person who doesn’t struggle with PTSD may not think twice about these physical responses to exercise, but someone who is trying to keep his or her emotions under control may feel like he or she is experiencing a panic attack when he or she runs on a treadmill or lifts weights. Because this is sometimes the response to exercise, PTSD sufferers shy away from an exercise routine.
Another reason why PTSD sufferers don’t enjoy exercise is because there is so much energy placed in staying calm and keeping traumatic emotions at bay. If you’ve ever experienced an emotionally stressful experience, you can attest to the fact that you feel exhausted, overspent, and need some time to recover. If an individual is experiencing depression, anxiety, and PTSD, he or she may be more prone to isolation and low energy. For those who struggle daily with the effects of trauma, exerting energy is often the last thing on their mind. Even though exercise is difficult for those who experience PTSD, it can be hugely beneficial to their coping and recovery.
Benefits of Exercise for PTSD Victims
In a physical sense, exercise and getting active is important for anyone who hopes to live a healthy life. It keeps heart disease, weight gain, and other health issues at bay, and increases flexibility and strength. Those who exercise on a regular basis also find that they sleep better, enjoy a better feeling of well-being, and experience a longer and happier life.
Exercise also has a positive effect on mental health as well. When you exercise, serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins are released, which boosts your mood and positivity. If you’ve ever heard someone refer to “runner’s high”, this is what the person is experiencing. For those who struggle with PTSD, exercise can boost their mood levels and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. A regular exercise routine, even if it just is a daily walk, can prove extremely beneficial for individuals who have experienced intense trauma.
How to Start an Exercise Routine
If you struggle with PTSD, it’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor first before starting an exercise routine. He or she will be able to advise you on the right way to exercise and any issues or problems that could arise. If you receive the thumbs-up from your doctor to begin exercise, a great place to start is by taking a walk every day. A walk doesn’t require a gym membership, is low impact, and you’re in a familiar area, like your neighborhood or area of town that you know well. A few other ways to get some exercise include:
- Swimming: This is gentle on the body while being a great cardiovascular workout. You can use a kickboard or underwater weights to work on specific muscle groups as well.
- Hiking: If you live in an area with hiking trails, getting out into nature can be therapeutic and enjoyable. Look up places to hike close by and even take a few friends or family members for company.
- Walking a dog: If you have a furry friend, taking your dog for a walk is another fantastic way to get moving. Try exploring new neighborhoods or parts of your city with Fido in tow.
- Doing yardwork: Many PTSD sufferers feel safer and more relaxed at home, but would like to get some exercise as well. Mowing the yard, raking leaves or grass, or hauling branches is a perfect way to take care of your home while staying in a familiar area.
- Yoga: This relaxing practice is a great way to relax your body and your mind. There are even classes offered specifically for those who struggle with traumatic experiences. Check out yoga studios in your town and ask about specialized classes.
If you or a loved one is searching for PTSD support, the peer support specialists at Peer Support Central are here for you. We understand and can empathize with your experiences and want to be there for you, your friend, or family member. We’re proud to offer our services to those who have been or are currently serving in the first responder and military fields. If you or someone you know are in need of our services or PTSD support, contact us today. We’re here for you!