Anxiety is a normal part of life. Momentary fear, unease, and apprehension sometimes get paired with physical symptoms like shortness of breath or a fast heartbeat, but they usually go away on their own. If they don’t, there are ways to ease anxiety.
It’s possible you know someone who experiences anxiety symptoms occasionally. The Anxiety & Depression Association of America estimates that more than 40 million U.S. adults have anxiety symptoms. At the same time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that nearly 6 million children under 18 also exhibit signs of anxiety.
If anxiety becomes a daily occurrence and spirals out of control, you’re at greater risk of developing a more severe anxiety disorder or other psychiatric disorders like depression, or medical problems like diabetes and cardiovascular issues. A study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health indicates that people with anxiety are more sedentary and partake less in vigorous forms of physical activity, if any. But you might be interested to learn that pulling on workout gear or other comfortable clothing and moving about is a great way to prevent and treat anxiety.
The Benefits of Exercise and Mental Wellness
- It gives your endorphins a serious boost. Physical activity may help increase the production of feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain called endorphins.
- Exercise can lower the adverse effects of stress. Exercise provides stress relief but also mimics specific effects of stress, like the flight or fight response, teaching your body and its systems to work together to handle harmful impacts of anxiety. Improvements in your cardiovascular, digestive, and immune systems are another positive byproduct of exercise.
- There’s nothing like a fast-paced game of tennis, an intense walk or bike ride, or a few laps in your rec center pool, to put your mind in a meditative mood and forget what was bothering you in the first place.
- Getting into the habit of daily exercise or other physical activity can help you shed the tensions of a tough stretch at work or elsewhere. It allows your mind to focus on one task, boosting energy and optimism to help you remain calm, clear, and attentive in all facets of your life.
Finally, exercise improves your mood, which is key to fighting off the effects of anxiety. As you exercise more, you can build self-confidence, learn to relax, and reduce symptoms of anxiety. Sleep cycles are often disrupted by stress and anxiety, but exercise uses natural, healthy fatigue to return you to a more regular sleep routine. All of these benefits can lower your stress levels and help you regain the feeling of control over your body and life.
The Best Exercises to Ease Anxiety
This centuries-old form of exercise also doubles as a kind of meditation. People who embrace yoga enjoy a range of physical benefits like better circulation, improved flexibility, and a tougher core. Regular yoga also lowers the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Make sure to educate yourself on how yoga works before trying it.
Different Kinds of Cardio
Running, cycling, and swimming are forms of cardio that are terrific exercises for heart and lung health. It can also serve as a form of meditation when done regularly over more extended periods of time compared to fast, strength-intensive exercises like weightlifting. If you have anxiety symptoms, these kinds of workouts are an effective form of stress management each morning, to begin your day with a burst of the feel-good endorphins mentioned earlier.
Resistance Exercise Programs
More physically intensive resistance training can be a valuable addition to your anti-anxiety tool belt. Why? Because this kind of training helps you function better by promoting physical and mental wellness.
Breathing Exercises to Help Anxiety
Many take breathing for granted, but you shouldn’t. Breathing exercises allow you to focus on one of the biggest causes of many physical anxiety symptoms. Namely, your breath. If you have anxiety, you often breathe high in your chest, characterized by shallow, short breaths. You may hyperventilate, leading to symptoms like breathlessness, problems thinking or focusing, and light-headedness. But learning to control your breathing can reduce anxiety and improve your mental and physical health.
Finally, when was the last time you danced? Few things can be more life-affirming or jubilant than merely cutting the rug or shaking your body to some awesome tunes.