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Physical Activity Counseling Promotes Physical and Psychological Resilience in Older Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

Hall KS, Gregg J, Bosworth HB, Beckham JC, Hoerster KD, Sloane R, Morey MC. Physical Activity Counseling Promotes Physical and Psychological Resilience in Older Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Mental health and physical activity. 2016 Oct 19; 11:53-59.

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Individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have elevated rates of morbidity, and a sedentary lifestyle can cause and aggravate the physical health needs of adults with PTSD. The primary aim of this paper was to explore the impact of physical activity (PA) counseling (vs. usual care) on physical and psychological outcomes among individuals with PTSD. A secondary aim was to compare these arm effects between those with and without PTSD. METHODS: Older ( > 60 years) overweight veterans with impaired glucose tolerance were randomly assigned to an intervention or a usual care control arm. Of the 302 participants who underwent randomization, 67 (22%) had PTSD. Participants in the intervention arm received one in-person activity counseling session followed by regular PA telephone counseling over 12 months. Physical and psychological outcomes were assessed at baseline, 3, and 12 months. RESULTS: Primary Aim (intervention vs. usual care among those with PTSD): PA increased on average from 80 minutes/week to 161 minutes/week among participants in the intervention arm (p = 0.01). Large, clinically meaningful improvements in six-minute walk test and psychological health were observed over the course of the intervention (p < 0.01). Secondary Aim (PTSD/No PTSD, intervention/usual care): participants with PTSD responded equally well to the intervention compared to participants without PTSD, though we observed significantly greater improvements in vitality and six-minute walk compared to participants without PTSD (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Given the epidemic of comorbid psychological illness and lifestyle-related disease among persons with PTSD, our findings support development and implementation of targeted PA interventions in this high-risk population.

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