Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant


Physician Assistant Studies

Department Chair

John Cavenagh, MBA, PhD, PA-C


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not exercise is an effective treatment for reducing anxiety in patients with panic disorder.

STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review of three English language randomized controlled trials published between 2008 and 2015.

DATA SOURCES: Three randomized controlled trials published in peer-reviewed journals comparing the effects of exercise on anxiety in patients with panic disorder using PubMed and EBSCO databases.

OUTCOMES MEASURED: The outcomes measured were improvement in anxiety symptoms in patients with panic disorder participating in exercise and fears related to anxiety- related sensations when patients were participating in exercise. These were measured by the Beck anxiety inventory.

RESULTS: One study in the review showed mild statistical significance in improvement of anxiety symptoms with exercise. One study showed that compared to cognitive behavioral therapy, exercise was not as effective of a treatment. Finally, one of the studies showed that exercise was statistically significant as a therapy for anxiety symptoms, but was still more effective when combined with cognitive behavioral therapy.

CONCLUSIONS: Based on these studies, exercise does have an effect on reducing anxiety symptoms in patients with panic disorder. However, exercise is more effective as an adjunctive therapy combined with the current first line treatment of cognitive behavioral therapy. Further investigation into this topic should be done as exercise is a cost-effective treatment that has various other health benefits outside of the benefit of reducing anxiety.