HSR&D Citation Abstract
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Mental health and somatic symptom severity are associated with reduced physical activity among US Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
Hoerster KD, Jakupcak M, McFall M, Unützer J, Nelson KM. Mental health and somatic symptom severity are associated with reduced physical activity among US Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Preventive medicine. 2012 Nov 1; 55(5):450-2.
Ensuring that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans engage in adequate physical activity is essential to prevent metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, and promote psychological well-being. Identifying factors associated with physical activity in this population will yield areas for targeted interventions aimed at increasing activity.
Correlates of meeting physical activity recommendations ( = 150 min/week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity [MVPA]) were examined in Iraq/Afghanistan veterans assessed at intake to VA Puget Sound Healthcare System''s post-deployment health clinic (May, 2005-August, 2009; N = 266).
The majority were male (94.3%) and Caucasian (70.7%), with an average age of 29.8 (SD = 7.3) years. Participants engaged in a median of 180 weekly MVPA minutes. Among those meeting (59%) and not meeting (41%) recommendations, median weekly MVPA minutes were 540 and 0, respectively. In multivariate regression models, higher levels of depression (p = .042) and somatic (p = .018) symptom severity were associated with significantly decreased odds of meeting physical activity recommendations.
Overall, physical activity engagement among Iraq/Afghanistan veteran VA patients was above the level specified in national recommendations. Those with higher depressive and somatic symptoms were less likely to meet physical activity recommendations and may benefit from targeted physical activity promotion interventions.