According to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, regular exercise is one of the best ways for veterans to cope with post-traumatic stress syndrome. And, a variety of state agencies and third-party organizations across the country help former servicemembers tap into the healing power of physical activity. Through these initiatives, PTSD specialists and veterans suffering from the disorder have pinpointed the activities that make the biggest positive impact.
This year, Vermont began sponsoring weekly ski trips for groups of local veterans. Participants say hitting the slopes allows them to free their minds. The scheduling lends structure to their lives, and the social aspect of the sport is beneficial. According to experts, human connection is good for PTSD sufferers.
Running is also a stress-relieving activity. Researchers recently discovered that running suppresses symptoms associated with PTSD. It boosts levels of a cerebral protein that helps humans deal with anxiety and rebuilds some cognitive processes.
Veterans in San Diego are turning to an unorthodox sport to take on PTSD: mixed martial arts. An organization named the Pugilistic Offensive Warrior, which is owned by an Iraq War veteran, enables former servicemembers to develop strategies for controlling their emotions. Plus, it’s a great way to get in shape and build self-esteem.