Exercise Will Help Ease Your Anxiety: Here's Why

A recent study on anxiety and exercise found better results with resistance training than with aerobic exercise, despite the fact that most of the recommendations out there point to aerobic exercise as the best type to beat anxiety. So is one really better than the other? Let's take a look at what we know about exercise and anxiety to find out.

Why does exercise affect anxiety?

Part of the difficulty in pointing to a certain type of exercise as the best for anxiety is that we still don't really know how exercise eases anxiety symptoms. An interesting study, published recently in the Scandinavian Journal of Science & Medicine in Sports, was conducted to look at precisely that question. The study measured blood serotonin levels in participants who were assigned to either an aerobic exercise group or a stretching control group. They found that those in the exercise group had a larger decrease in blood serotonin, which is similar to the effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (antidepressants used to treat anxiety disorders). This result points to one possible explanation for how exercise improves anxiety, but of course, is specific to aerobic exercise.

What is being studied?

The above study illustrates another difficulty in determining what type of exercise is best: studies tend to focus on aerobic exercise. There simply isn't as much data available on other exercises. A search on PubMed for the terms aerobic exercise anxiety returns over 2000 published articles, while a search for strength training anxiety returns less than 150. But there are studies that have shown benefits of strength training, yoga, tai chi, and other forms of exercises.

The Current Recommendation

Based on the studies that have been conducted, the standard exercise "prescription" is 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 to 5 days per week. Several studies have indicated that greater intensity exercise may have additional anxiety-easing benefits. Additional strength training and flexibility exercises are also often recommended, highlighting the fact that all types of exercise are beneficial and necessary for ultimate mental and physical health.

The bottom line: Exercise can ease anxiety, and any type of exercise is better than none.

Photo: Pixabay

Anxiety Support Groups

More Articles

Norpramin is a tricyclic antidepressant that is approved by the FDA to treat depression and also prescribed off-label for the treatment of some...

It's easy to feel like you're the only one feeling anxious in performance situations, whether it's giving a speech in front of a few people or...

Uncontrollable shaking can happen when your arms, hands, legs and even your entire body may feel shaky or like they are trembling.

Some...

As anyone who has experienced one knows, anxiety attacks are very frightening episodes of intense fear or panic. In addition to the severe...

A new series of studies and experiments by the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, illustrate the stress- and fear-...

More Articles

While many anxiety disorders are very responsive to treatment, compulsive hoarding is a unique disorder which defies classification and tends to...

Perceived threats trigger the 'fight or flight' response—that sequential process that prepares you either to put up a fight to defend your life—...

You heard a rumor of more layoffs at work, have not met your monthly quota, and are finishing up an important presentation at the last minute. You...

Many people with anxiety or depression are interested in finding a "natural" treatment method that can help ease their symptoms. For some people,...

It would be easier to be a man with anxiety if it weren't for that doggone thing called masculinity. Whether it is free-floating anxiety, a phobia...

Agoraphobia is a disorder that develops when a person begins to avoid situations associated with anxiety. It arises from an anxiety condition that...

Who we spend our time with is just as important as what we spend our time doing; maintaining close relationships is a necessary and wonderful part...

If you struggle with exam anxiety, you’re not alone. Test-taking can be one of the anxiety causes while in school, but it can be overcome.

...

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a mix of mindfulness meditation and simple yoga poses. It has been proven to help people reduce...

There’s no sure way of preventing generalized anxiety disorder, but there are certain steps you can take to keep your anxiety disorder from...

Anxiety sweating is a very common symptom with an anxiety disorder. In most cases, anxiety sweating is perfectly natural.

Being angry,...

Anxiety palpitations may be felt accompanying emotions such as excitement, stress, anxiety or fright. Normally a person is not aware of the...

The essential amino acid tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate a number of important brain functions....

Norpramin is a brand name for the pharmaceutical desipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant which operates by inhibiting the reuptake of...

The term chronic stress disorder is often used to describe the psychological condition known as complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). C...