If you struggle with anxiety, you know how overwhelming and exhausting it can be. It can interfere with your daily life and make it difficult to relax or enjoy activities.
While there are many ways to manage anxiety, one effective strategy is to incorporate regular exercise into your routine. Physical activity has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health and can help reduce symptoms of anxiety. It can also improve your overall sense of well-being and increase self-esteem.
But how does exercise help ease anxiety? Here’s what the research says:
1. Exercise Reduces Stress
Physical activity can help reduce stress by releasing endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and mood boosters. Exercise can also decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety.
2. Exercise Improves Sleep
One common symptom of anxiety is difficulty falling or staying asleep. Exercise can help improve the quality of your sleep by making it easier to fall asleep and sleep more deeply. This is because physical activity helps promote muscle relaxation and reduce psychological stress, making it easier to fall and stay asleep.
3. Exercise Boosts Mood
In addition to releasing endorphins, exercise can boost mood by increasing blood flow to the brain. This can help improve cognitive function and reduce feelings of depression or anxiety.
4. Exercise Increases Social Connection
Anxiety can often lead to social isolation, but exercise can help increase social connection and support. Joining a team or group fitness class can provide a sense of community and help you feel less alone.
Exercise That Can Help Ease Anxiety
There are different exercises that can help reduce anxiety depending on your personal preference and physical abilities. Here are a few options to consider:
Aerobic exercise, also known as cardiovascular exercise, is any activity that increases your heart rate and breathing. This can include activities like running, cycling, dancing, running, and swimming. Aerobic exercise is by far the most common technique for managing anxiety.
Yoga combines physical poses with breathing techniques and mindfulness practices. This can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being. In addition, the focus on the present moment in yoga can help reduce anxiety by taking your mind off of your worries.
Tai chi is a low-impact, slow-moving martial art that involves a series of fluid movements and deep breathing. Like yoga, it combines physical activity with mindfulness practices and has been shown to alleviate anxiety and improve overall well-being.
Light Weight Training
While aerobic exercise is often thought of as the best type of exercise for reducing anxiety, research has also shown that lightweight training can have similar benefits. In addition to the physical benefits, weight training can also improve self-esteem and body image, which can be helpful for those struggling with anxiety.
Tips for Incorporating Exercise Into Your Anxiety Management Plan
If you’re ready to start incorporating exercise into your anxiety management plan, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Start Slowly: If you’re new to exercise or haven’t been active in a while, it’s important to start slowly and gradually increase your activity level. This will help ease your way into a routine and reduce the risk of injury or exercise burnout.
Find an Activity You Enjoy: It’s important to choose an activity that you enjoy, as this will make it more likely that you’ll stick with it. Whether it’s going for a walk, taking a dance class, or lifting weights, find something that you look forward to doing.
Set Realistic Goals: Setting unrealistic goals can be frustrating and lead to feelings of failure, which can increase anxiety. Instead, set small, achievable goals for yourself and celebrate your progress along the way.
Be Consistent: To get the most benefits from exercise, it’s important to be consistent. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a few times a week, or at least 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise a few times a week.
Incorporating regular exercise into your routine can be a powerful tool for managing anxiety. Luckily there are many different types of exercise to choose from, and all you have to do is find something you enjoy and make it part of your daily routine to enjoy the benefits.