Resistance Training Is Shown To Be More Effective Than Aerobic Exercise To Treat Anxiety

By now, everyone knows that exercise improves health on many levels--including mental health as well as physical health. There have been a number of studies that suggest that regular exercise can help ease symptoms of anxiety, but there is still debate over what exercise is best. Most recommendations are for aerobic exercise, as that's what has traditionally been studied the most. A new study, however, found that resistance training had an advantage over aerobic exercise in reducing symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

The Study

This study, presented at the American College of Sports Medicine 58th Annual Meeting, randomized 30 sedentary women with GAD into three groups. One group participated in a 6-week resistance training regimen, one group in a 6-week aerobic exercise regimen, and the control group was placed on a waitlist and did not participate in a prescribed exercise regimen.

The Results

When anxiety levels and worry symptoms were compared across groups at the end of the 6 weeks, the researchers found that rates of remission in the resistance training group were as high as 60%, compared with 40% in the aerobic exercise group and 30% in the control group.

Lead author Dr. Matthew Herring, of the Department of Exercise Science at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, thought that the intensity of the activity may have something to do with the resistance training's effectiveness. He noted that the women perceived greater exertion during resistance training sessions than aerobic sessions.

"Our findings suggest that exercise training is a feasible, safe, and well-tolerated short-term treatment option, potential adjuvant therapy, or augmentation for patients with generalized anxiety disorder," concluded Dr. Herring.

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