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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
Anxiety.org 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
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.