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Mil Med. 2016 Sep;181(9):953-60. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-15-00488.

Exercise and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Military Veterans: A Systematic Review.

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Department of Biobehavioral Sciences, Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a prominent mental health issue for many military veterans. Recent evidence from nonveteran populations with PTSD suggests that exercise may be a potential treatment option. As such, the purpose of this review was to (1) provide the rationale for the use of exercise in the treatment of veterans with PTSD and (2) systematically review studies examining the relationship between exercise and PTSD in military veterans. A search of electronic databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, and Web of Science) for relevant studies published in print or online from January 1980 to September 2015 produced 204 unique articles and 13 relevant studies (9 observational studies, 2 experimental, and 2 qualitative). Results of these initial studies are promising and suggest that regular exercise is inversely correlated with PTSD and its symptoms in military veterans. However, the longitudinal effect of exercise on PTSD in military veterans remains unclear because the current research lacks a common focus and suffers from several methodological limitations. Recommendations for the development of future trials are included.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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