Did you know you can overcome anxiety with exercise?
We all know that exercise has lots of benefits to our general health and feeling of well-being. As well as these general positive effects of exercise, research is beginning to show that exercise can help specifically to overcome anxiety symptoms.
Overcome anxiety with exercise
A study early this year at the University of Georgia compared the effects of leg cycling and lower body weight-lifting exercise, twice a week, on anxiety symptoms in women suffering from Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). The two exercise groups were also compared with another group of women on the waiting list, who were not exercising at all. Some of the women in the study were taking medication for anxiety disorder, but none of them was receiving any other treatment.
The study found that the women in both exercise groups significantly reduced their worrying, as well as noticing improvements in other symptoms such as irritability, tension, pain, and fatigue. The improvements were greatest in the weight-lifting group.
“Our findings add to the growing body of evidence of the positive effects of exercise training on anxiety,” said researcher and doctoral student Matthew Herring.
“Our study is the first randomized controlled trial focused on the effects of exercise training among individuals diagnosed with GAD. Given the prevalence of GAD and drawbacks of current treatments, including expense and potential negative side effects, our findings are particularly exciting, because they suggest that exercise training is a feasible, well-tolerated potential adjuvant therapy with low risk that can reduce the severity of signs and symptoms of GAD.
“Future research should confirm these findings with large trials and explore potential underlying mechanisms of exercise effects among individuals with GAD.”
The researchers also looked at the interaction of exercise and medication in helping overcome anxiety. Half the of women in each group were taking medication for their GAD, while the other half were not taking medication.
It appeared that whether or not the woman was taking medication, exercise gave the same relative improvement in anxiety symptoms.
“The large improvements found in this small investigation show that regular exercise has the power to help calm women suffering from GAD, even among those who appear to be resistant to treatment using medication,” said exercise physiologist Patrick O’Connor, Ph.D.
“The results of this research are very exciting because exercise is available to everyone, is relatively inexpensive and has beneficial effects beyond the reduction of anxious and depressive symptoms,” said co-author and clinical psychologist Cynthia Suveg, Ph.D.
So don't wait for more proof that you can overcome anxiety with exercise. Head on out to the gym, or dust off your running shoes or the old bike in the garage, and get moving.