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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Does exercise affect OCD?

    I have OCD and have been told previously I have been told that exercise could help releases nervous energy in the form of adrenal homones which could then minimise my OCD? Is this correct? Should i be exercising more to manage it?
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  • 3


    Offers information and education advice about protecting mental health, mutual support and advocacy services. View Profile

    It has been proven that moderate exercise reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety. Also that aerobic exercise promotes release of endorphins, which are “feel good” neurochemicals. Preliminary research has found that severity and frequency of OCD symptoms are reduced following exercise and in conjunction with therapeutic interventions.

  • 1


    Anthony Merritt

    Clinical Psychologist, Health Psychologist, Psychologist

    I have been a Clinical Psychologist for ten years. I initially specialised in health psychology with a focus on pain management. More recently my focus … View Profile

    The answer is, it depends. It seems to be the case that exercise helps lift mood and relieve anxiety. However, exercise can also be problematic if it is a form of avoidance, in whcih case it may serve to help a person avoid unwanted thoughts of feelings. For people with OCD that can be problemtic as it may serve to inadverently increase the frequency and intensity of unwanted thoughts and feelings. Exercise can also be problematic if it is done obessively for obvious reasons.
    So I think moderate exercise aimed at mood and anxiety can be helpful as part of an overall approach, but as a stand alone thing it is unlikely to ‘treat’ the OCD effectively, and you should be mindful of why you are exercising. 

  • 1

    Thanks aims to improve treatment for young people with mental health problems by gathering information about what works in the real is run by … View Profile

    You can check out how helpful young people rate exercise for OCD and anxiety disorders at (

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