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Guard Your Mind and Body during PTSD Awareness Month

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June is PTSD Awareness Month, a great opportunity to raise public awareness about PTSD, a behavioral health concern that impacts the lives of many Americans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD affects:

  • 11 to 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans
  • 12 percent of Gulf War Veterans and
  • Approximately 30 percent of Vietnam Veterans

For those affected by a behavioral health concern, everyday tasks can sometimes feel overwhelming, but exercise can help. Incorporating regular physical activity can alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression by improving behavioral health, boosting moods, and improving sleep quality.

No matter your age or fitness level, regular exercise can positively impact both your mind and body. Working out releases endorphins, those “feel-good” chemicals that trigger feelings of happiness. Walking, jogging, swimming, biking, and other forms of exercise can help those with PTSD by providing a distraction from painful memories and reducing physical tension.

Regular exercise can also provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment, helping you gain confidence as you achieve your fitness goals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that adults get 150 minutes of exercise each week, which is just a little more than 20 minutes a day.

There are a number of ways to achieve 20 minutes of daily exercise:

  • Take a brisk walk with friends or family members
  • Squeeze in a short online workout video, like Guard Your Health’s free #WarriorReady workouts
  • Go for a jog around the neighborhood

When taking control of your health, find a routine that includes regular exercise, a healthy diet, and sound sleep patterns. Exercise can also be a valuable addition to a behavioral health treatment plan with guidance from a healthcare provider.

Remember, if you are struggling with a behavioral health concern, you are not alone. If you or someone you know is in crisis, help is only a phone call or text away. Dial the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1), or send a text message to 838255 for immediate help.

Guard Your Health is a health and medical readiness campaign for Army National Guard Soldiers and their families sponsored by the Army National Guard Chief Surgeon’s Office. Guard Your Health provides Army National Guard Soldiers with the information, motivation, and support to overcome challenges and make healthy decisions for themselves, their families, and their units. To learn more about improving your health, visit the Guard Your Health website, like “Guard Your Health” on Facebook, and follow @ARNGHealth on Twitter. For more tips to max your APFT and stay mission ready, subscribe to FitText, Guard Your Health’s text message program, by texting FIT to 703-997-6747.

Citation Guide

Breene, Sophia. “13 Unexpected Benefits of Exercise.” Greatist, 7 Oct. 2014. Web. 19 May 2016.

“Depression and Anxiety: Exercise Eases Symptoms.” Depression (Major Depressive Disorder). Mayo Clinic. Web. 19 May 2016.

“How Common Is PTSD?” PTSD: National Center for PTSD. US Department of Veterans Affairs. Web. 25 May 2016.

“How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?” Physical Activity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 04 June 2015. Web. 20 May 2016.

Khazan, Olga. “For Depression, Prescribing Exercise Before Medication.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 20 May 2016.

“Mental Health By the Numbers.” NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. Web. 18 May 2016.

“Physical Fitness Training Year-Round Boosts Resilience.” Real Warriors. Web. 18 May 2016.

Weir, Kirsten. “The Exercise Effect.” American Psychological Association. Web. 20 May 2016. December 2011, Vol 42, No. 11.