Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science

Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science




Larry Herman, DMSc, MPA, PA-C, DFAAPA



Purpose: The purpose of this article is to provide insight and clinically applicable information regarding the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Specifically, the article aims to illuminate the impact of prescribed physical exercise as adjunctive therapy in the treatment of PTSD symptoms.

Method: A search was completed using PubMed and Google Scholar with the search terms “physical exercise as a treatment for PTSD”, “exercise as adjunctive treatment in PTSD”, “exercise + PTSD”, and “PTSD symptoms + exercise”. Initially, the searches returned 347 results. After limiting results to systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and randomized controlled trials, the total was reduced to 80 publications. Further narrowing was accomplished by limiting the search to studies published in the last 5 years. Articles were then excluded based on study size being too small, non-relevance to the proposed article, and overlap of study reviews. Twelve articles were selected as possible sources to support this clinical review article.

Results: The preponderance of evidence supports the effectiveness of exercise as an adjunctive treatment for PTSD. Further study is necessary to determine if the type of exercise (aerobic vs. resistance vs. meditative/yoga) has clinical significance.

Conclusion: PTSD affects nearly 8% of the general population in the United States throughout their lifetime.1 Standard treatment regimens for the condition often include a combination of pharmacotherapy and talk therapy. Adjunctive therapies like eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and narrative exposure therapy (NET) have been shown to provide benefits when combined with traditional treatment methodologies.2 These adjuncts can sometimes be challenging to find and financially prohibitive. A review of the available literature shows that exercise, which is affordable and readily available to most people, can provide great benefit and symptomatic reduction for PTSD patients.


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