Exercise is medicine for mental health in military veterans: A qualitative commentary

Nick Caddick, Brett Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
271 Downloads (Pure)


Different approaches to treatment for mental health problems in military veterans continue to attract research attention. In addition to the NICE-approved treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy and eye-movement desensitisation and reprocessing, a number of novel and innovative approaches have recently been developed. One such approach is encapsulated under the emerging paradigm of ‘exercise as/is medicine’. Following recent calls to strengthen the evidence base for new and emerging mental health treatments for veterans, this paper presents a commentary on current evidence in support of ‘exercise as medicine’ derived from qualitative research studies. It is concluded that qualitative research has made a significant contribution to the emerging evidence base for exercise-based interventions. This evidence base can be used to inform current debates about quality assurance in the area of veterans’ mental healthcare and to underpin quality provision for service users. Qualitative research also has a significant future contribution to make toward improving the evaluation of novel treatment approaches, generating more impactful research, and increasing the applicability of research findings in ‘exercise as/is medicine’. The paper closes with some critical reflections on the role of exercise-based interventions as a means of helping veterans improve their mental health.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Early online date24 May 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 May 2017


  • Exercise
  • Medicine
  • Veterans
  • Mental Health
  • PTSD
  • Qualitative Research


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