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Best Exercises/Activities For OCD

OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder is a behavioral disorder that can affect anyone at some point in their life. Men and women are equally affected by this disorder, which currently affects 2 to 3% of the population.

People often have a feeling of helplessness, suffer psychologically and are anxious because of their condition.

Generally, the obsessive rituals or habits are performed in secret, out of sight of others, because the affected individual believes that nobody would understand their behavior, nor what they feel. They realize that their actions don’t really make sense, but they feel unable to control them.

OCD affects up to 3% of the population, regardless of ethnicity or gender. It is sometimes confused with other anxiety disorders. In fact, it is a disease that needs to be treated in order to relieve people who suffer from it.(1)

Best Exercises/Activities For OCD

Can Exercise Help OCD?

If you have OCD, exercise may have additional benefits, namely a decrease in your symptoms.

Aerobic exercise can be used clinically to relieve symptoms of mild to moderate depression and reduce overall levels of stress and anxiety. Moreover, the overall severity and frequency of OCD generally decrease during the 12 weeks following exercise.

Intensive meditation, progressive relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, guided imaging therapy, biofeedback, and many other relaxation methods enable people to distract their attention from their problematic thoughts and behaviors while at the same time engaging them in more productive behaviors. Aerobic exercise has many physical benefits, including lower cholesterol and lower risk of heart disease and diabetes as well.

Some of the successful forms of exercise to fight OCD are:

Interactive Metronome: It is a more recent development and in high-technology applications. If you train the internal mechanisms of brain synchronization through repetitive body movements that are performed in conjunction with voice commands, you can significantly increase your cognitive control, concentration, and attention. Important signaling factors of your mind are considered when treating OCD.

Aerobic Exercise: Scientists have discussed the effects of certain types of exercises on certain chemicals in the brain. Exercise also helps strengthen nerve connections, create new nerve cells, and improve the supply of energy supply to your brain. Physical activity has been praised by some prominent scientists as the best medicine on the planet. One thing is certain: a productive movement of your body can affect the production and metabolism of neurotransmitters. (3) (4) (5)

Meditation And Relaxing Techniques: By training brain systems that control our impulses to improve the chemical interactions involved in these systems, there is hope for those under complete dominance of OCD. Intensive meditation, progressive relaxation strategies, biofeedback, breathing exercises, methods such as guided imaging, and many other methods of relaxation enable OCD patients to distract their attention from their problematic thoughts and behaviors while at the same time engaging them in more productive habits and behaviors. This can have a significant effect on brain chemicals and body systems, as is the case with exercise.

How Exactly Exercises Help OCD Patients?

These changes can help increase your confidence and reduce stress, an important trigger for OCD.

Sports activities and other forms of exercise can make you more social. Such activities can cause the release of growth factors that make new connections to neurons. It can change your brain. Whether you go to the gym, meet your partner for exercise, or join a sports team, all these things can help make you more sociable.

There are many ways that exercise may help relieve symptoms. Going out and socializing is a great means of social support. Exercise also promotes the release of endorphins, new chemicals for well-being, increases mood and prevents stress. These new compounds may help reduce OCD symptoms.

Exercise also helps improve your self-esteem. If you exercise regularly, you can feel better physically and mentally.

Could Exercise Worsen OCD?

Although OCD is not induced by stress, its effects may be exacerbated or rendered worse. On the other hand, physical training and exercise can be effective in calming your nerves. As mentioned above, it will also allow you to meet people and relieve stress.(5) (6)

Environmental, genetic, and other biological influences may combine to produce OCD symptoms. Research has shown that changes in the level and balance of chemicals in the brain are associated with anxiety and other similar disorders. They also indicate that OCD has a genetic component since it is found in members of the same family.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder can develop as a result of certain bacterial infections (streptococcal infections) acquired in childhood, or after an injury or trauma to the head or brain. (2)


  1. Krebs G, Heyman I. Obsessive-compulsive disorder in children and adolescents. Archives of disease in childhood. 2015;100(5):495-499.
  2. Burguiere E, Monteiro P, Mallet L, Feng G, Graybiel AM. Striatal circuits, habits, and implications for obsessive–compulsive disorder. Current opinion in neurobiology. 2015;30:59-65.
  3. Brown RA, Abrantes AM, Strong DR, et al. A pilot study of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for obsessive compulsive disorder. The Journal of nervous and mental disease. 2007;195(6):514-520.
  4. Abrantes AM, Farris SG, Brown RA, et al. Acute effects of aerobic exercise on negative affect and obsessions and compulsions in individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of affective disorders. 2019;245:991-997.
  5. Mumm J, Bischoff S, Ströhle A. Exercise and Anxiety Disorders. The Exercise Effect on Mental Health: CRC Press; 2018:334-357.
  6. Shannahoff-Khalsa D, Fernandes RY, Pereira CADB, et al. Kundalini Yoga Meditation vs. the Relaxation Response Meditation for Treating Adults with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Frontiers in psychiatry. 2019;10:793.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 16, 2020

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