Exercise and Anxiety – What’s the Co-Relation?

Exercise and Anxiety – What’s the Co-Relation?

Fitness Articles Latest — 25 July 2013

Exercise and anxiety are inversely proportional to each other. The human anatomy works in a ‘use it or lose it’ expression so if you don’t use the body, you lose it. Exercise is important not only to stay fit physically only, but it helps mental stability too. Exercising helps in fighting diseases and improving physical condition and it further enhances the cognitive functioning which helps in reducing the stress and fatigue in a human brain. Exercising produces endorphins which are chemicals that act as natural pain killers in the brain that can help to improve one’s ability to sleep, and thus helping to relieve stress. It has been found that indulging in exercise stabilizes the mood, reduces tension and helps improve sleep and self-esteem as well. Anti-anxiety effects can begin to get stimulated with just about five minutes of an exercise session.

 How does exercise work?

It has been evidently proven by science that people who are physically inactive suffer higher rates of depression and anxiety then compared to the ones who are physically active. Exercise creates vibrant new neurons in an area of the brain “hippocampus”, which is involved in thinking and emotions.

It is about two incompatible effects of physical activity in the brain. While on one hand, exercise in known to create the new excitable brain cells, it also can prompt a pattern of calmness in some parts of the brain simultaneously.

This eye-opening discovery was made by the researchers at the Princeton University. These newly formed cells can be inclined to ‘easy excitement’, which makes them pretty efficient in inducing anxiety. These excitable new neurons are created in abundance through physical exercise which could increase the anxiety in short term, but is beneficial in the long run.

However, with the experiment done in mice (comparing the active running mice with the sedentary ones), it was found that while the brains of the active mice were full with the ‘new excitable neurons’, they also contained new neurons which is designed to release a neurotransmitter called “gamma-aminobutyric acid” (GABA). This GABA inhibits the excessive neuronal firing which helps in inducing a natural state of calm.

The anti-anxiety drugs which are commonly prescribed such as – Ativan, Valium and Xanax also exert a calming effect in the same way, i.e. by boosting the action of GABA.

The benefits of exercise is supported by the psychologists as well, who claim that exercise is effective enough to be utilised as a primary form of treatment for depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. Time and again research hs shown that the patients who see an improvement in their mood are the ones who follow regular exercise regimes as compared to the improvement of those treated with medication.

Exercise as a part of therapy:

Studies have shown that regular exercise is as effective as medication for some people in reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression and that these effects are long lasting. One intense session of exercise can help relieve symptoms for hours; hence, a regular schedule may substantially lessen them over time.

However, even though exercise effects positively for majority, for some it may not have that positive effect on anxiety or depression or may not make a robust influence on long term mental health.

Like all the other forms of therapy, the effects may differ. While some people may respond positively, some may not find it so effective, while some others may experience only a short-term benefit.

Regardless of this, the advantages of exercise on physical health are indisputable. The above information alone should be enough to keep people motivated to stay physically active for their own well-being.

Related Articles

About Author

Love Fitness Education

Love Fitness Education is a London based Fitness Training Provider delivering Personal Training Courses, Fitness Instructor Qualifications and CPD’s to budding fitness professionals in London. We have extensive experience in delivering fitness qualifications both in the UK and internationally and we pride ourselves on our reputation as the industry experts.