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  • Writer's pictureJackie

Exercise Lowers Anxiety

37% of American adults report feeling it. Exercise helps.

Anxiety has crept into more and more lives over the past couple of years. We somehow suspect this is true, maybe because we have personally been feeling it or because we empathize with friends and family who do. Surveys reveal that the rise is indeed reality: Findings by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that between April 2020 and August 2021, 28.2% to 37.2% of US adults reported having symptoms of anxiety. This is up from 7.4% to 8.6% in 2019.

From medication to meditation to ditching caffeine, a number of approaches can help to alleviate anxiety. Did you know that regular exercise is also a remedy for anxiety? Intuitively, you likely do. If you’ve noticed that oddly relaxed state of wellbeing after an intense, sweaty workout (or even a brisk walk), then you’ve reaped the anti-anxiety benefit of exercise!

A study published this past January in The Journal of Affective Disorders determined that subjects who engaged in strength and cardio activity for 12 weeks experienced significantly fewer anxiety symptoms. This was true even if they’d suffered from anxiety as a chronic condition. Also, when subjects exerted themselves more, they were more likely to find relief. An article by the American Council on Exercise sums up this increase, saying, “For those who exercised at relatively low intensity, the chance of improvement in terms of anxiety symptoms rose by a factor of 3.62. The corresponding factor for those who exercised at higher intensity was 4.88.”

If the phrase “exercise is medicine” has become hackneyed, maybe the tidbit of research mentioned above will freshen it up. In terms of mental health, we’ve known for a while now, via research, that exercise helps with depression and self-esteem. Now we can officially add anxiety relief to the list. While it may not banish the condition completely, working up a sweat can help a lot.

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels


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