Anxiety by itself is not a disorder, but too much anxiety often is. Here are 3 reasons exercise helps treat anxiety:
1. Exercise boosts anxiety fighting neurotransmitters. Exercise naturally raises levels of serotonin and norepinephrine. This boost happens immediately and lasts over time, making exercise the natural “anti-anxiety prescription.” Additionally, exercise increases GABA which calms the brain making it easier to take advantage of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or other thought changing techniques.
2. Exercise reduces anxiety based tension in the muscles. When we are stressed or anxious our muscles react by holding tension. Exercise reduces that tension in the same way that the popular drug class beta-blockers do.
3. Exercise treats anxiety by breaking the chains or fear. When people are anxious, they typically get stuck in a loop of worry, fear, and apprehension that breeds more and more anxiety. By breaking this cycle with exercise, the brain is freed up to learn new thought patterns that can be strengthened with practices like CBT.
Exercise does not need to be overly strenuous or complex to have these powerful benefits in treating anxiety. Put on your sneakers, go for a walk, and break the cycle of anxiety.