Living a healthy lifestyle represents the best defense against anxiety. Exercise is one of the key aspects of a healthy lifestyle to aid in the prevention of anxiety and other disorders. In the United States alone, anxiety affects millions of people every year. In fact, the Anxiety Disorder Association of America considers it the most common mental illness. Fortunately, there are a number of exercises available that has been used to effectively treat the symptoms of anxiety.
How does exercise help in reducing anxiety?
Exercise has been deemed, and highly rated, as the best natural cure for anxiety. Physical therapists and mental health specialists suggest that exercise makes the body release endorphins – the “feel good” hormones – into the brain, thereby triggering a burst of serotonin in the body’s elixir of life. This helps one to gain back control of his or her body, which is the first step to feeling back in control of other aspects of his or her life.
In addition, exercise has been known for centuries to be the perfect way of eliminating the black clouds of depression. Focusing on the exercise one is performing prevents him or her from getting mulled over the last – and probably incorrectly perceived – social calamity. It is worth noting that anxiety is normally triggered and driven dominantly by negative cognition and thoughts. So, engaging the brain in a more constructive activity is thought to give one’s emotions the much needed break.
Regular physical activity strengthens the heart, improves the mood and boosts one’s self esteem. As the heart becomes stronger due to regular exercises, it also performs better, especially in stressful, or anxious, situations. This results in increased blood flow into the brain, which in turn, triggers the release of the mood-enhancing endorphins. Having an adequate amount of endorphins in the body results into a brightened mood and less gloomy thoughts. The thought of doing something practical to help relieve anxiety, instead of spending miserable times in bed, is just enough to make one feel calm, refreshed, fit, stronger and better about him or herself. This feeling brings with it a welcome boost to self-esteem.
Exercise is healthier
Besides being a powerful method of managing anxiety, exercise is healthier and can be easily integrated as a lifestyle. Studies have shown that the causes of anxiety such as unused energy, increased stress hormones, and immune system malfunction can be easily handled through daily exercises. Consequently, treating anxiety with exercise offers a vast number of emotional and psychological benefits too. It helps one gain confidence, get more social interaction, and cope in a healthy way.
Certainly, besides tough exercises such as lifting weights, among others. But, if you do not already incorporate exercise into your daily regimen, start slowly and work upward. Perhaps a simple walk around the block, a brisk and short run, gardening, washing the car, playing basketball, or walking the dog (or cat – yes, some people do put their cats on leashes) would be a good way to start. And, remember: there is no time like the present, and all journeys begin with a single step.