Regular Exercise to Treat Anxiety Symptoms!!!

Anxiety is an emotional state commonly caused by the perception of real or potential danger that threatens the security of the individual. Everyone experiences a certain amount of nervousness and apprehension when faced with a stressful situation. Usually, the response is reasonable and adaptive, and contains a built-in control mechanism to return to a normal physiologic state. For some people, however, anxiety is more than just a temporary discomfort. For these individuals anxiety can be debilitating. It is when anxiety states become excessive or prolonged, particularly if it produces such psychological and physical stress, that the person cannot perform the activities of daily living, that medical help should be sought.

Physical exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health. It is performed for many different reasons. These include strengthening muscles and the cardiovascular system, improving athletic skills, weight loss or maintenance and for enjoyment. Frequent and regular physical exercise boosts the immune system, and may help prevent diseases such as heart disease, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer and obesity. It also improves mental health and helps prevent depression. Moderate exercise increases heart rate and breathing rate. Examples of this type of activity would be: easy jogging, walking, bike riding, swimming, water aerobics, gardening, etc.

Researchers recently analyzed the results of 40 randomized controlled clinical trials involving nearly 3,000 patients to determine whether exercise can reduce the symptoms of anxiety in people with chronic health conditions. The patients in the studies suffered from a variety of conditions, including heart disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer and chronic pain from arthritis. The results revealed that in 90% of the studies analyzed, patients randomly assigned to exercise had fewer anxiety symptoms than the control group. Researchers determined that exercise sessions greater than 30 minutes were more effective at reducing anxiety than sessions of less than 30 minutes. One surprising fact was that exercise programs lasting between 3 and 12 weeks appeared to be more effective at reducing anxiety than those lasting more than 12 weeks. The researchers suggest that this may be due to participants being less likely to stick with longer exercise programs, which shows that better participation rates result in greater reductions in anxiety. These findings indicate that exercise can effectively be used to treat anxiety symptoms, with less risk of adverse events than traditional medications.1

1 Herring MP, O’Connor PJ, Dishman RK. The effect of exercise training on anxiety symptoms among patients: a systematic review. Arch Intern Med. Feb2010;170(4):321-31.