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Psychiatry Res. 2015 Dec 15;230(2):130-6. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2015.10.017. Epub 2015 Oct 20.

Physical activity in the treatment of Post-traumatic stress disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

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School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia; Early Psychosis Programme, The Bondi Centre, South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, Australia; Musculoskeletal Division, The George Institute for Global Health and School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Electronic address:
UPC KU Leuven, Campus Kortenberg, KU Leuven - University of Leuven, Department of Neurosciences, Kortenberg, Belgium; KU Leuven-University of Leuven, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Leuven, Belgium.
School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia; St John of God Health Care Richmond Hospital North Richmond, Australia.
Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales at St Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst, NSW, Australia.
School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia; Schizophrenia Research Unit, South Western Sydney Local Health District, Australia.
Physiotherapy Department, South London and Maudsley NHS FoundationTrust, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AZ, United Kingdom; Health Service and Population Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8 AF, United Kingdom.


People with PTSD experience high levels of cardiovascular disease and comorbid mental health problems. Physical activity (PA) is an effective intervention in the general population. We conducted the first systematic review and meta-analysis to determine the effect of PA on PTSD. We searched major electronic databases from inception till 03/2015 for RCTs of PA interventions among people with PTSD. A random effects meta-analysis calculating hedges g was conducted. From a potential of 812 hits, four unique RCTs met the inclusion criteria (n=200, mean age of participants 34-52 years). The methodological quality of included trials was satisfactory, and no major adverse events were reported. PA was significantly more effective compared to control conditions at decreasing PTSD and depressive symptoms among people with PTSD. There was insufficient data to investigate the effect on anthropometric or cardiometabolic outcomes. Results suggest that PA may be a useful adjunct to usual care to improve the health of people with PTSD. Although there is a relative paucity of data, there is reason to be optimistic for including PA as an intervention for people with PTSD, particularly given the overwhelming evidence of the benefits of PA in the general population. Robust effectiveness and implementation studies are required.


Depression; Exercise; Mental illness; PTSD; Physical activity; Post-traumatic stress; Yoga

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