Physical Activity in People With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review of Correlates

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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People with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are more likely than the general population to be physically inactive. The present review systematically evaluated correlates of physical activity across the socioecological model for people with PTSD.


Two independent reviewers searched Embase, PubMed, PsycARTICLES, and CINAHL from inception until June 2015, combining the medical subject heading “posttraumatic stress disorder” or “PTSD,” with “physical activity” or “exercise.” Data were extracted by the same independent researchers and summarized according to the socioecological model.


Eight papers involving 1368 (994 men) participants (age range = 18–70 years) were eligible and enabled evaluation of 21 correlates. The only correlate (n ≥ 4) consistently associated with lower physical activity participation in people with PTSD was symptoms of hyperarousal. No consistent facilitators were identified.


Hyperarousal symptoms are associated with lower physical activity participation among people with PTSD and should be considered in the design and delivery of individualized exercise programs targeting this population. The role of social, environmental, and policy factors on physical activity participation among people with PTSD is unknown and should be addressed by future research.

Vancampfort is with the Dept of Rehabilitation Sciences, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium. Richards is with the School of Public Health & Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Stubbs is with the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London, United Kingdom. Akello is with the Dept of Mental Health, Gulu University, Gulu, Uganda. Gbiri is with the Dept of Physiotherapy, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria. Ward and Rosenbaum are with the School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Vancampfort ( is corresponding author.