Exercise for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Systematic Review and Critical Synthesis of the Literature
Purpose: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of anxiety disorder that can be seen in individuals who sustain major biological stresses, including military veterans. Physical activity has been linked to improve psychological well-being. Therefore, the purpose of this literature review is to examine the effects of exercise on symptoms and functioning associated with PTSD in military veterans.
Method: A systematic literature search was conducted to identify primary research articles that were then graded based on their strength and level of evidence according to Centre for Evidence-based Medicine. Due to low quality of evidence, heterogeneous outcomes measures, and incongruent study designs a critical synthesis of the literature was conducted.
Results: Eight primary research articles were found that documented potential effects of exercise on PTSD (range of evidence grades: 2B-4). Outcomes measures often included responses to surveys and to exercise training. Direct evidence for clinical effects was sparse.
Conclusion: Available evidence suggests that exercise may be a promising type of therapy to address symptoms and functioning. Physical therapists may consider prescribing aerobic exercise for individuals with PTSD. Specifically as part of an overall intervention strategy involving multi-disciplinary teams. This recommendation is not yet confirmed from the available research, and additional clinical studies are necessary
Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Practice
Garcia, Jessica C.; Davenport, Todd E.; and Mansoor, Jim K., "Exercise for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Systematic Review and Critical Synthesis of the Literature" (2017). All Faculty Scholarship. 468.