Feasibility & Efficacy of Yoga as a Therapeutic Intervention for US Veterans

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Jacklynn M. Fitzgerald, Kaley Davis, Meghan Bennett, & Rachel Bollaer

Burden of Physical Health Comorbidities in the U.S. Veteran Population

Research on the efficacy of yoga to treat physical and mental health disorders is on the rise, although, to our knowledge, no review has yet summarized the effects of yoga in U.S. veterans. This review aims to summarize what is known regarding the feasibility and efficacy of yoga as a therapeutic in this population. Treating mental health disorders, notably posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders, remains a common focus in managing the health and well-being of U.S. veterans (Schnurr, 2022). While such focus is intuitive, approaches that narrowly focus on mental health alone may miss opportunities for improving life outcomes for veterans. This is because in addition to psychiatric disorders such as PTSD, U.S. veterans experience many physical health complications. Principal among these are obesity, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndromes (Ahmadi et al., 2011; Rosenbaum et al., 2015; van den Berk-Clark et al., 2018). Such physical comorbidities are not only linked to premature mortality (Franks & Olsson, 2007) and increased risk of hospital admissions (Chen et al., 2020), but also to greater PTSD severity (Babić, 2013; Heppner et al., 2012).

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