High-Intensity Interval Training in Panic Disorder Patients: A Pilot Study : The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

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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*†

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The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 207(3):p 184-187, March 2019. | DOI: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000944


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.

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