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High-Intensity Interval Training in Panic Disorder Patients

A Pilot Study

Plag, Jens, MD*†; Ergec, Deniz-Levent, MSc*†; Fydrich, Thomas, PhD; Ströhle, Andreas, MD*†

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: March 2019 - Volume 207 - Issue 3 - p 184–187
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000944
Original Articles

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) may produce strong physiological but also psychological effects within a short period. However, it is questionable if this type of training is applicable and effective in patients with panic disorder (PD) because they are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of exercise. Twelve PD patients performed a 12-day HIIT trial. Every second day, patients performed 10 high-intensive 1-minute intervals at 77% to 95% of their maximum heart rate separated by 1-minute intervals with moderate to low intensity. All patients completed the 12-day training period. PD severity, agoraphobia, depression, general disorder severity, and endurance performance improved substantially with moderate to large effects sizes. Moreover, the increase in endurance performance was correlated with the reduction of depression and agoraphobia. HIIT was well tolerated by patients with PD and may induce rapid and strong therapeutic effects. A randomized controlled clinical trial is needed to verify our findings.

*Charité–Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin;

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy–Campus Mitte, Berlin Institute of Health; and

Department of Psychology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany.

Send reprint requests to Andreas Ströhle, MD, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany. E-mail:

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