January 23, 2017

How to Take Control of Your Anxiety

An Anti-Anxiety Workout

by Rob Fischer

What works as well (or feels better) than medication for calming anxiety, but without the nasty side effects? Before I answer that question, consider some of the causes of anxiety: [1], [2]

  • Feeling out of control
  • Chronic stress with no relief
  • A sense of hopelessness
  • Stress chemicals in the blood
  • A depleted immune system
  • Inactivity
  • Poor self-esteem
  • A sense of foreboding about what might happen
  • Reduced cognitive function

10 ways exercise helps calm anxietyAt some time or another, everyone feels anxious about something. But when anxiety becomes the norm in your life, you may begin to feel like its slave. Anxiety disorders afflict about 40 million adults in the US, making it the number one psychiatric illness.[3] If you find yourself suffering from chronic anxiety, it’s time to take action and do something about it.

What is so effective against anxiety? Let me ease you into that answer…

If you’ve ever been plagued with anxiety, depression or chronic stress you know that when your mind and emotions are taxed to the limit, so is your body. Your body begins to show the signs of anxiety in a variety of ways that may include: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, a weakened immune system, sleeplessness, and a host of other physical problems.

So it’s no stretch of logic to recognize that when your body feels better, so does your mind.[4] A key solution to dealing with the physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety is physical activity. Exercise can not only alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, it can literally pull you out of that dark hole and get you moving upward and forward again.

When you have anxiety or depression, exercise often seems like the last thing you want to do. But once you get motivated, exercise can make a big difference.

10 Ways Exercise Helps Calm Anxiety

Here’s what the research is showing: [5], [6], [7]

1. Gain Confidence

Regular aerobic exercise decreases tension, improves mood, helps you sleep better, and feel better about yourself.

2. Release Feel Good Chemicals

Physical exercise stimulates the release of endorphins in the brain that make you feel good, both physically and emotionally.

3. Relieve Pain

Just like you might take an aspirin for a headache, a brisk walk or other simple exercise can provide several hours of relief.

4. Take Your Mind Off Your Worries

Exercise can help the brain cope and feel better with stress.

5. Produce Calming Effect

Aerobic exercise lowers the amount of stress chemicals in your bloodstream that lead to and worsen anxiety.

6. Cope in a Healthy Way

Exercise helps distract you from the dark thoughts that plague your mind and replaces them with positive, productive energy.

7. Shrink Anxiety

Regular physical activity offers both short-term and long-term benefits for reducing anxiety.

8. Maintain Motivation

When you find an activity that you really enjoy, participating in that activity gives you something pleasurable to look forward to.

9. Strengthen the Immune System

Exercise helps build a strong immune system that keeps you healthier both physically and emotionally.

10. Socially Rewarding

Exercise recharges your emotional batteries. If you choose to exercise with others, the social interaction adds to the benefits. If you’d rather exercise solo, you’ll find respite from stress and come back feeling renewed.

What Type of Exercise Do I Need to Ward Off Anxiety?

Exercises to ward off anxiety v2Although all forms of exercise are good for you, aerobic exercise in particular has been found to be most effective in reducing stress and anxiety.[8] Aerobic exercise gets your heart rate elevated higher than normal (but not pounding or racing); and requires you to breathe more deeply. Breathing more deeply supplies you with higher volumes of oxygen that does wonders for your health and mood.

Examples of aerobic exercise include: brisk walking, hiking, bicycling, running/jogging, rowing, swimming, dancing, and sports like basketball, racket ball, and tennis.

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