Destroy Anxiety With These Psychology-Backed Workouts

Physical and mental health verifiably complement one another, so it should come as no surprise that the key to easing mental anxiety is both restorative and invigorating exercise. Anxiety is the most common mental disorder and affects 18% of adults in the U.S.

Psychiatrists recommend various exercises to lessen your anxiety. If you find that you’re still suffering from anxious thoughts despite medication, therapy, and meditation, these exercises can help.


Young woman doing yoga on top of a blue mat in her room.

Yoga benefits your body, mind, and soul. | Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

The breathing technique used to practice yoga is especially beneficial for reducing stress. Sudarshan Kriya Yoga utilizes a traditional cyclical breathing pattern. Studies have examined the effects of this breathing on anxious participants and noticed a significant decline in depression-associated stress.

Yoga is also beneficial for those suffering from PTSD-related anxiety. The Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. is a prime example. It offers yoga and yogic relaxation in post-deployment PTSD awareness courses.

Tai chi

Fitness group doing Tai Chi outdoors.

Tai chi will make you limber and strong. | Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

Psychologists produced a study from the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine which found tai chi to have powerful mental health benefits.

The Mayo Clinic calls tai chi “a gentle way to fight stress.” The exercise promotes serenity through constant motion and poses specific to the art form. Tai chi is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints. It’s safe for all ages and fitness levels and is perfect to ease a restless mind.


A woman with running shoes walks along a park path.

Running will help you sweat out your stress. | Bogdanhoda/iStock/Getty Images

Clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis, Ph.D. teaches the ways running can quell your anxiety and improve your mood. “Running causes lasting changes in our ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, both during and after exercise.”

While running, your body releases endorphins, natural mood-boosting chemicals which relieve feelings of distress and depression. Running also increases your body temperature, which calms your mind.

Outdoor hiking

Family hiking in autumn mountains and watching views.

Not only does hiking keep you fit, but the breathtaking views will clear your mind. | MargaretW/iStock/Getty Images

The American Public Health Association found that just being in nature is enough to notably increase relaxation. Hiking gives you the opportunity to engage in cardiovascular activity, spend time in nature, and socialize … all of which are proven to reduce stress.

Psychologists studying how exercise relieves anxiety and depression suggest that a 10-minute walk can be all you need to clear your mind.

Strength training

A woman works out on a medicine ball.

A strong body = a clear mind. | Diego Cervo/iStock/Getty Images

John D. Moore, Ph.D. found strength training as an effective exercise to combat common anxieties. Strength training induces a better night sleep, which relaxes the mind and settles anxious thoughts. In an article in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, professionals found that resistance, or strength training is a “meaningful intervention for people suffering from anxiety.”

Like running, it improves your mood and self-esteem. Curl away your depression and anxiety with these beginner tips to strength training.


A woman dancing in fitness gear.

Good music and some fun dance moves will improve your mood immensely. | Fizkes/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Whether you’re in line to audition for Dancing With the Stars or just an eager Zumba participant, you may be easing your anxiety with every move. Dancing has proven itself a valuable form of expression and helps participants to embrace their individual identity, therefore boosting their self-esteem. promotes dance therapy as well. “Dance therapy … is designed to help those trying to cope with severe anxiety, mental and physical trauma, depression, and/or substance dependence.”

How to get the help you need

Male psychologist taking notes while talking to a patient.

Therapists are here to help. | Shironosov/iStock/Getty Images

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, there are plenty of beneficial resources you can consult. While exercise is a helpful tool, severe anxiety is detrimental to your health and may require professional treatment. Find help through the Anxiety and Depression Association of America or seek out a local medical professional. As always, consult your doctor before making severe lifestyle changes or taking any medication.