As an assault survivor, I know all too well the devastating impact trauma can have on an individual’s mental health. For years, I suffered from PTSD, which can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, such as military combat, sexual assault, or a severe accident. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance of certain situations or triggers, emotional numbing, hypervigilance, and irritability.
But through my journey of healing, I discovered that running and meditation were powerful tools that helped me manage my symptoms. A recent study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that exercising before a traumatic event can reduce the prevalence of symptoms associated with PTSD. The study divided rats into an exercise group, a sedentary group, and a control group. The exercise group ran on a treadmill for six weeks, gradually working up to 20 minutes per session. After six weeks, the exercise and sedentary groups were exposed to a predator scent to mimic a traumatic event. After seven days, the animals were tested to determine if they exhibited any lasting behavioral changes from the scent exposure. The investigators found that compared to the animals that exercised and to the controls, sedentary rats performed worse in the maze and the startle tests, showing a higher incidence of extreme behaviors consistent with PTSD. In addition, the researchers found that the sedentary animals exhibited significantly lower expressions of three markers in the brain associated with the hippocampus, which is particularly sensitive to stress, compared to the exercisers.
These findings support the idea that running can be an effective tool for managing symptoms of PTSD. Exercise has been shown to release endorphins, improve mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote well-being. Running can also be a meditation in motion, allowing for a sense of mindfulness and present-moment focus that can be incredibly beneficial for those dealing with trauma.
As someone who has personally experienced the benefits of running and meditation, I can attest to the power of these practices in managing symptoms of PTSD. Running gave me a sense of control and empowerment over my body and helped me to feel strong and capable. It also provided an outlet for my pent-up emotions and helped me to release stress and tension. Meditation, on the other hand, helped me focus on my breath and be present at the moment, which was crucial in helping me overcome anxiety and fear.
It’s important to note that while running and meditation can be incredibly beneficial, they are not a panacea. Everyone’s healing journey is different, and finding what works for you is essential. It’s also important to consult with a mental health professional if you are struggling with PTSD. They can provide you with guidance and support and connect you with other resources that can help.
In conclusion, running and meditation can be powerful tools for managing symptoms of PTSD. It’s essential to consult with a mental health professional to get the best guidance and support for you. Running and meditation can help to provide a sense of control, empowerment, and present-moment focus that can be incredibly beneficial for those dealing with trauma. I hope that this blog will help to raise awareness of the benefits of running and meditation for those dealing with PTSD and inspire those who are struggling to seek help and support.