University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Improvements in Cardiorespiratory Fitness are not Significantly Associated With Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Symptom Reduction in Intensive Treatment

Voorendonk, E.M., Sanches, S.A., de Jongh, Ad ORCID: and Van Minnen, A. (2019) Improvements in Cardiorespiratory Fitness are not Significantly Associated With Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Symptom Reduction in Intensive Treatment. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 10 (1). Article no. 1654783. ISSN Print: 2000-8198 Online: 2000-8066

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Background: Physical activity has been found to have positive effects on symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, the importance and role of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) in relation to PTSD treatment outcome is not yet clear.

Objective: The purpose of the present study was to test the hypothesis that CRF would increase following intensive trauma-focused treatment (TFT) of PTSD augmented with physical activity, and that improved CRF would be associated with a significant decline in PTSD symptoms.

Method: One hundred-eight individuals with severe PTSD (72% women; mean age = 40.44, SD = 11.55) were enrolled in an intensive TFT programme of 8 days within 2 consecutive weeks that consisted of daily prolonged exposure (PE), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy and 6 hours of physical activity each day. CRF levels were assessed at baseline and post-treatment with a 6-Minute Walk Test (6MWT) and, in a subsample, with a submaximal ergometer test (PWC75%/kg). Severity of PTSD symptoms was measured with the PTSD Symptom Scale-Self Report (PSS-SR).

Results: A significant increase in CRF from pre- to post-treatment and a significant decrease of PTSD-symptoms was found. However, CRF difference scores were not associated with treatment outcome.

Conclusions: Although individuals with PTSD may show an increase in CRF following an intensive TFT programme augmented with physical activity and a decrease of PTSD-symptoms, the current findings do not support the notion that treatment outcome is related to CRF.

Item Type: Article
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The full-text of the online published article can be accessed via the official URL.

© 2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (,
which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: Post-traumatic stress disorder, physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness, intensive trauma-focused treatment, 6-minute walk test, submaximal ergometer test
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > School of Psychology
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Copyright Info: Open Access journal
SWORD Depositor: Prof. Pub Router
Depositing User: Tanya Buchanan
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2019 13:26
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:32

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