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The UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine is researching a unique mind-body approach to healing veterans with PTSD. Integrative Exercise combines western cardio exercises and power yoga with breathwork and mindfulness techniques. We will measure PTSD-related psychological and physical changes.
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The UCSF “Veterans Group Exercise” research project studies the effectiveness of Integrative Exercise, a new treatment utilizing mind and body strengthening for veterans with PTSD.
The Veterans Group Exercise pilot research project is a collaboration between the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine and the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC). Dr. Tom Neylan of the VAMC and Dr. Margaret Chesney of the Osher Center are developing a new integrative treatment to help heal veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
This 12-week intervention will study the effect of Integrative Exercise, a new approach to healing combat-related stress, utilizing mind and body strengthening. Integrative Exercise combines physical exercises with active yoga styles, such as “power yoga,” as well as mindfulness practices.
This treatment seems especially promising because existing research has proven that exercise alleviates many PTSD symptoms, including anxiety, depression, cognition problems, and insomnia. As many as 90% of people with PTSD have reported sleep disturbances. Physiologically, exercise has been found to increase the growth of new neurons and is likely to reverse the volume loss in the brain’s hippocampus region associated with PTSD.
Mindfulness practices help people relax through deep mindful breathing, and helps them gain an awareness of how the breath affects and connects the mind and body. Integrative Exercise combines the positive effects of both western and eastern healing traditions.
The results of this pilot study will inform a grant application for a larger randomized clinical trial submitted to the National Institutes of Health or the US Department of Defense. A successful large study could have a dramatic impact on the treatment of veterans with PTSD nationwide.
We will study the effects of Integrative Exercise therapy in male and female veterans with PTSD, as they relate to:
Change in volume of the brain's hippocampus
Other PTSD symptoms.
With endless gratitude to Adan Pulido and the San Francisco State University DocFilm Department's Virtual Vets Corps!