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A Pilot Study of Moderate-Intensity Aerobic Exercise for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Brown, Richard A. PhD; Abrantes, Ana M. PhD; Strong, David R. PhD; Mancebo, Maria C. PhD; Menard, Julie MS; Rasmussen, Steven A. MD; Greenberg, Benjamin D. MD, PhD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: June 2007 - Volume 195 - Issue 6 - p 514-520
doi: 10.1097/01.nmd.0000253730.31610.6c
Original Article

This preliminary study examined the impact of aerobic exercise as an adjunctive intervention to regular care in reducing obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms in a clinical sample. Fifteen patients (53% male; mean age = 44.4 years) receiving behavioral therapy and/or pharmacotherapy for OCD and who still demonstrated clinically significant OCD symptoms (i.e., Yale-Brown obsessive compulsive scale, Y-BOCS scores above 16) were enrolled in a 12-week moderate-intensity exercise intervention. Measures of OCD symptom severity were obtained at baseline, end of treatment, and at 3- and 6-week, and 6-month follow-up. Study findings at the end of this 12-week aerobic exercise intervention point to a beneficial effect (Cohen's d = 1.69) on reduction in OCD symptom severity. Further, reductions in OCD symptom severity appear to persist 6 months later. Lastly, improvement in overall sense of well-being was observed after the 12-week intervention. Results of this study suggest that a randomized clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of this 12-week aerobic exercise intervention is warranted.

Butler Hospital/Brown Medical School, Providence, Rhode Island.

Send reprint requests to Richard A. Brown, PhD, Brown Medical School and Butler Hospital, 345 Blackstone Blvd., Providence, RI 02906.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.