Healthy Living

Exercise Can Reduce Anxiety

Exercise Can Reduce Anxiety

Key Takeaways

  • Exercise can help to treat anxiety tremendously.
  • Weekly exercise can leave an individual feeling less anxious, and it leaves them in better spirits.

People who have chronic diseases, like heart conditions and arthritis may benefit from exercising, according to a study published in, Archives of Internal Medicine. Exercise may help to relieve anxiety and improve the quality of life in these people. Results of this study add to the growing body of evidence that supports that physical activity is the best medicine that can be recommended by physicians to reduce anxiety, says Matthew Herring, a doctoral student in the department of kinesiology at the University of Georgia.

Anxiety can negatively affect an individual's life, and it can prevent an individual from doing normal daily routines. In this study, researchers reviewed 40 studies that focused on the effects of physical activity on patients with chronic diseases, including heart disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and arthritis. The results showed a 30% reduction in anxiety levels in people who exercise regularly, when compared to those who do not exercise.

Most of the studies in the review report a reduction in symptoms of anxiety, like feelings of worry, apprehension, and nervousness, in people who exercise regularly. The studies also show that activity sessions longer than 30 minutes are more effective in alleviating the symptoms of anxiety when compared to sessions shorter than 30 minutes. But the duration of exercise had a different result – programs lasting between up to 12 weeks were found to better the individual, than those which lasted longer than 12 weeks in providing anxiety relief. Researchers feel that this difference may be due to the difficulty to stick on to longer exercise programs.

Rod Dishman, PhD, professor of kinesiology at the University of Georgia, Athens, co-author of the study, feels that some amount of effect reported in the study may be underestimated as many participants did not complete the exercise sessions. Despite this, the findings of the study support the fact that exercise can be used to treat a variety of mental and physical health conditions with less risk of adverse events.