The anxiolytic effect of regular aerobic exercise in panic disorder patients is well known. However, a protocol for aerobic exercise intervention as an adjunct non-pharmacologic treatment for panic disorder is still lacking. Our aim was to propose and present a pilot study about an aerobic training protocol that could be replicable, safe and viable for other clinical trials with panic disorder patients.
A total of 24 exercise sessions (twice/week) of treadmill walking at controlled intensity (75% VO2max) were completed by four panic disorder patients.
No major complications were observed. The benefits of the aerobic training intervention were reflected in favorable changes in the Panic and Agoraphobia Scale, the Cardiac Anxiety Questionnaire, the Anxiety Sensitivity Index and in the Body Sensations Questionnaire scores, in spite of no significant differences in physiological variables.
The proposed protocol of aerobic training intervention was shown to be a safe and potentially useful tool as adjunct non-pharmacologic treatment of panic disorder. Further studies are needed in order to determine whether higher intensities and/or longer exercise interventions would induce physiological benefits while still being feasible and safe.
physical exercise; anxiety; non-pharmacological treatment