Beating anxiety through Exercise
“Get outside more; if it’s gray, there is some light getting through. Exercise helps any depression or anxiety”
Dr. Denise Deschenes
It’s a fact that exercise helps the normal functioning of our body. But do you know that it can aid in improving our mental health as well? Regular exercise can have a positive effect on anxiety, depression and many other mental issues. It will also help to relieve stress, improve memory, higher self-esteem, stronger resilience in facing mental and emotional challenges and assist you for a good night’s sleep. You don’t have to be a diehard fitness fanatic to get benefits and modest daily effort is more than enough.
Scientists studying anxiety have been puzzled by the exercise’s incompatibly positive effects on brain for many years. Researchers at Princeton University recently found that moderate exercise creates new dynamic brain cells and at the same time spreads a calmness in certain parts of the brain. In 2008, Wipfli, Rethors (University of Texas) and Landers (Arizona State University) analyzed results from 49 randomized controlled trials in this matter and results were outstanding and revealed a larger reduction in anxiety in the groups.
In another study, 27 randomized trials compared efficacy of exercise to other therapy forms including drug treatment and indicated that exercise is better than all other therapy forms. Exercise seems more effective than stress management education, slightly more effective than group therapy, yoga and meditation and equally as beneficial as cognitive behavioral therapy.
Up to date no single theory adequately explains how physical activity reduces anxiety and depressive symptoms despite continuous research. Several hypotheses exist involving biochemical, physiological and psychological mechanisms. Biochemically, exercise seems to reduce the circulating stress hormones in the body that cause anxiety and depression. The physiological mechanisms hypothesized include the central mono amines theory which in simple words, corrects the dysregulation of chemical compounds responsible for causing problems.
It is very important to know that you don’t have to suffer to get results as moderate levels of exercise is best for most people. When you haven’t exercised for a long time, setting extravagant goals like completing a marathon and working out few hours every morning will only make you feel discouraged if you fail. So start small. Any activity that gets you moving counts including cycling to the grocery store, playing Frisbee with your dog or friend, gardening and doing a home improvement project etc. Be comfortable and pick anytime of the day you feel ok. Wear something comfy and choose a location that is positive, fresh and energizing which can be a quiet corner of your home, city park or a scenic path. Then with time gradually increase the intensity of your workout.
Be sure to reward yourself. Promise yourself a hot bubble bath, a delicious smoothie or an episode of your favourite Tv episode after work out. If sticking to a daily routine seems difficult better to do it with a friend or a relative. Even a little bit of activity is better than nothing so don’t give up.
Davidson’s Clinical medicine 21st edition
Journal of Sports and Exercise Psychology by Chad D. Rethorst