Can Exercise Help With Anxiety?

Anxiety is on the rise worldwide.

The real worry is that, not only is anxiety debilitating as you experience it. But it can increase your risk for depression, heart disease and even diabetes. Since we know the link between endorphins and exercise, we want to know, can exercise help with anxiety?

An upsetting revelation with recent studies has been that those with anxiety are more sedentary. Which is counter productive to what they need for alleviating their anxiety!

Getting out and getting some exercise is possibly the best form of non-medical intervention for anxiety.

So yes, the answer to this question is a resounding yes exercise can help with alleviating anxiety. Here are some of the top ways exercise can help you and your chronic anxiety:

Aerobic exercise seems to be the most effective form of anxiety release

Think dancing, running, bike rides, and even just a walk. These activities allow you to divert your attention, to redirect that anxiety and even forget about the very thing that is stressing you out. For some it is a form of meditation, of drowning out the world or of burning off the day’s stress.

Another way exercise can help you is through the increase in your heart rate

As this creates a flush of anti-anxiety neurochemicals including GABA, serotonin, endocannabinoids and BDNF. These neurochemicals can be powerful in shifting your perceptions, how you think and feel. This is the reason why people will always talk about the release of endorphins post workout; it is so much more that, they are truly powerful and affect your brain in great ways!

Another great benefit is that exercise decreases muscular tension, lowering your bodies influence to the anxiety.

So many of us avoid working out when we feel tight and tense, yet this is the very thing that will help that physically and emotionally. I’m sure the answer to – Can exercise help with anxiety – is becoming more clear to you now!

It helps to boost your resilience to tough emotions, so yes what happens in the gym translates to your daily life too.

Exercise stimulates the frontal region of the brain which is responsible for our responses to threats. Deciding what is real and what isn’t. Thus helping our reacting system through exercise sounds super effective to me!

What type of exercise you chose doesn’t matter greatly, what matters more is trying something and seeing if it works for you then stick to it!

How much?

Well we know over training is a bad thing all around, but when you are suffering with anxiety then high levels of physical activity is the goal. Maintaining the fine balance between high levels and overtraining will have to be based on your own judgement. You shouldn’t feel more tense and more stressed and overworked but rather feel calmer and happier.

All of this scientific information is great and all, but I just want you to take note of how you feel when you exercise.

At the end of the day that is all that matters! Can exercise help with anxiety, yes! Use that to keep motivating you every day to keep it up (as I throw on my running shoes).



Isilda Da Costa is a personal trainer and women’s fitness specialist who, if she isn’t at the gym training, is busy researching the most up to date information for growing those muscles. She has combined her love of everything healthy by being a health coach in her own health shop in Swaziland. Follow along on @izzy.healthandfitness

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