Anxiety disorder is a common condition that affects a large percentage of our population. Even though we all experience anxiety from time to time, some people experience serious anxiety symptoms out of the blue for no specific reason. After a continuous time of experiencing these symptoms, one becomes diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Common medical treatments for Generalized Anxiety Disorder include medication, such as SSRI’s, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; which is very effective when combined with medication. However, recently doctors have become more aware of the positive benefit of exercise for treatment of anxiety and depression disorders.
25% less likely to develop anxiety or depression
According to scientists, evidence shows that physically active people have lower anxiety and depression rates than sedentary people. It seems exercise helps the brain cope better through stress. A study revealed that people who vigorously exercised regularly were 25% less likely to develop anxiety or depression over the next 5 years.
It’s obvious that exercise has a plethora of benefits and helps prevent a number of health problems, such as diabetes, arthritis and high blood pressure, but research is beginning to show that the psychological and physical benefits can also greatly reduce symptoms of anxiety and improve mood.
10 minute walk can have the benefits of a 45 minute workout
Psychologists suggest a quick 10 minute walk can have the psychological benefits of a 45 minute workout! Other studies show that exercise can work quickly to elevate your mood and help to reduce depression. Also, laboratory studies have demonstrated that individuals with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and those without, experienced 3 to 5 hours of lower anxiety levels after exercising vigorously on a treadmill.
Did you know a simple, quick walk can actually provide you with hours of relief?
How does exercise help anxiety?
Exercise helps ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression in a number of ways, which include:
- Exercise helps release our body’s “Feel-good” chemicals such as endorphins and dopamine.
- It also helps reduce natural chemicals in your immune system which can worsen the symptoms of depression
- Confidence! This is one of the most important benefits of exercise for anxiety and depression. Feeling better physically and about your appearance provides a huge boost to your mood.
- A regular exercise routine helps break the cycle of negative thoughts.
What kind of exercise should I do for my anxiety?
There are numerous exercises and activities to aid in reducing anxiety. While the more aerobic activities have the most benefit, just engaging yourself in simple activities will help, such as:
- Going for a walk
- Riding a bike
- Washing your car
- Basically any activity which gets you moving is beneficial
Developing an exercise routine, and sticking to it!
OK, so now you know the importance of exercising for anxiety and depression, it’s now time to get started. Remember, you’re initially going to feel very motivated right off the bat, but It’s important to pace yourself and do not overdo it. This could lead to injury and early burnout.
Take it slow in the beginning and gradually develop a consistent routine. Remember, it takes about 30 days to sink into a routine so please give it time and effort. Everyone is busy and it can sometimes be hard to set aside an extra 30 minutes. Make this time top priority because your health and well-being are important not only to yourself, but everyone around you.
It’s also important to realize your motivation can change. Enthusiasm usually fades and the routine may eventually become boring. Try switching things up by walking in different areas or trails, or using different exercise equipment.
The bottom line is that exercise helps keep anxiety symptoms down, and will also help you maintain a positive mood and self-image. Take this advice and use it today!
About the Authors: Mike and Sarah Campbell created SurvivingAnxiety to help sufferers learn and better understand their condition.