Exercise preferences and perceived benefits and barriers of physical activity among US veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder
Ana M. Abrantes, Madhavi K. Reddy, Samantha G. Farris, Benjamin D. Greenberg, Christopher Spofford, Nicole McLaughlin
Objective : Veterans are at an increased risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and are less likely to respond to traditional PTSD treatments . Exercise has not been extensively studied in veterans, but there is increasing evidence that exercise interventions can be implemented as an adjunctive treatment for the management of PTSD. The purpose of this study was to determine levels of physical activity, perceived barriers to exercise, and specific exercise preferences among veterans with PTSD. Methods: A total of 97 veterans (83% male, mean age of 56.6 years) currently receiving PTSD treatment completed a brief survey of their current exercise practices and preferences. Results: Approximately, half (47.4%) of the veterans reported exercising regularly during the past 3 months, and 32% of veterans reported no physical activity at all. The majority of inactive veterans expressed interest in initiating an exercise program. Perceived barriers to exercise included: Not having enough energy, feeling unmotivated, not having anyone to exercise with, not enough spare time, being overweight, and not being able to keep up. Inactive veterans reported the following exercise preferences: Exercising with friends, exercising at the VA hospital, and exercising with structured/ supervised help. Conclusions: Findings suggest that while veterans with PTSD are not engaging in optimal levels of physical activity, they are interested in initiating an exercise program. In addition, the identified barriers and specific exercise preferences may help inform the development of effective, adjunctive physical activity programs for veterans with PTSD.