WEEK 5: Benefits of exercise for anxiety

Tam Johnston

Wednesday Worry tips

Remaining on the basic building blocks for a healthy brain and nervous system, today we’re looking at another essential, but often overlooked area. Exercise.

 

WEEK 5: Benefits of exercise for anxiety anxiety

Get active!

Yes, I know, it may be the last thing you want to do and you question the energy reserves you have left, let alone getting yourself motivated to do it. But, and it’s a big but, it really is essential and the link between a more positive mood and exercise is well-established. There is a tendency to skip the exercise at the time actually you would notice the maximum benefit. It’s the equivalent of not taking painkillers when you got a headache.! Try to ensure that it is top of your priority list and find a way to push through when you’re feeling the most un-motivated, because that is when you will benefit the most.

 Exercise ‘burns off’ the stress and anxiety hormones, gets to into a flow state where your body and mind calms, gets your focus outwards rather than internally on your thoughts, thereby quietening down self-talk and the ‘thinking-feeling’ cycle. How many times have you been for a walk or done something else and the answer just ‘comes’ to you?  Exercise and the flow state it produces activates a different part of the brain which allows for allows creativity and problem solving.

Research has consistently proven that physical exercise three times a week reduces anxiety symptoms as well as added anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant benefits. Studies don’t fully agree as to whether this should be light, moderate or intense exercise, so monitor what has the best effect for you.

Regular workouts might also mean you become less likely to panic when you experience those fight-or-flight sensations as the body produces many of the same physical reactions such as heavy perspiration, increased heart rate in response to exercise. So the more you can associate those physical sensations with exercise, the less they become associated with your anxiety as you associate the symptoms with safety rather than fear or danger.

Pick a physical activity program or new hobby that you can see yourself consistently going to over the next 10 to 15 years. One of the most common mistakes that people make is that they pick an exercise or sport that they just don’t enjoy. So if that’s you, experiment! Aside from the benefits of the physical exercises self, added benefits of the company of others, team camaraderie, a surge of serotonin produced when you are enjoying yourself all add to the positive effects on our well-being.

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