Exercise Can Help Anxiety … Here’s How

WELLNESS-Statistics show that over 3 million American adults suffer from anxiety and there is no evidence that number will be declining any time soon.  With big cities becoming more and more populated and news of climate change and drought and war, there is a good chance that anxiety is on the rise. Besides getting help from doctors and other health care providers like acupuncturists, there are other things you can do to help stave off anxiety.  

Exercise.  Studies show that through regular exercise we aid the brain in releasing endorphins, which help to reduce the perception of pain. Endorphins don’t only affect the brain. They also affect the body.  Many people who exercise report a feeling of euphoria during or shortly after their workout.  This is often referred to as runners high.  Endorphins also have a sedating affect on the body, which help to pull us out of fight or flight and into a more relaxed state.  

Besides the chemical affects, exercise is also a way for people to get a break from their normal way of thinking.  Many report exercise as feeling like a form of meditation.  At the very least, it is a break from our usual cycle of thoughts.  When exercising vigorously it is required to think about the physical body and pay attention to the breath.  Both of these behaviors are normally acted upon when one is in meditation, and meditation is another highly affective way to combat anxiety.  

If one exercises outside, they are also getting a change of environment, which has the ability to drop anxiety levels. Throw in some fresh air and exercise and it often works as a quick way to take the edge off. If it’s not an outdoor park but rather a gym, this will still be helpful.  Simply changing your surroundings and getting out of the potentially stress producing space you are in, whether it’s your home or work, can help to decrease anxiety levels.  

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Part of feeling anxious is also feeling a lack of control in ones life.  Exercise is another way to feel like you have control. Going to the gym or the park and working out is something you are doing for you and only you.  Your partner or boss or family has very little to do with your exercise regimen therefore giving you a stronger sense of control in your life.  

It has been well documents that people who exercise more experience lower levels of anxiety.  This does not have to mean spending a fortune on a gym membership or personal trainer.  It can be as easy as picking a time every day and going for a brisk walk or jog outside. 

The important thing is that you get your heart rate up and hopefully break a sweat. The sweating helps us to eliminate toxins from our body and the elevated heart rate will strengthen your heart and allow for the brain to release endorphins.  

A morning workout is recommended because those great chemicals you get will help to carry you through your day feeling less anxious and more confident.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)






Vol 13 Issue 39

Pub: May 12, 2015