In a new study from Lund University, researchers found that regular exercise may help reduce the risk of developing anxiety.
They found that those who took part in the world’s largest long-distance cross-country ski race (Vasaloppet) between 1989 and 2010 had a much lower risk of developing anxiety compared to non-skiers during the same period.
A quick online search for ways to improve our mental health will often come up with a myriad of different results.
However, one of the most common suggestions put forward as a step to achieving wellness—and preventing future issues—is doing some physical exercise, whether it be a walk or playing a team sport.
Anxiety disorders—which typically develop early in a person’s life—are estimated to affect approximately 10% of the world’s population and has been found to be twice as common in women compared to men.
And while exercise is put forward as a promising strategy for the treatment of anxiety, little is known about the impact of exercise dose, intensity or physical fitness level on the risk of developing anxiety disorders.
In the study, the team used data from almost 400,000 people.
They found that the group with a more physically active lifestyle had an almost 60% lower risk of developing anxiety disorders over a follow-up period of up to 21 years.
This association between a physically active lifestyle and a lower risk of anxiety was seen in both men and women.
The team also found a noticeable difference in exercise performance level and the risk of developing anxiety between male and female skiers.
The team says exercise behaviors and anxiety symptoms are likely to be affected by genetics, psychological factors, and personality traits, and future work needs to examine these factors.
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The study is published in Frontiers in Psychiatry. One author of the study is Martine Svensson.
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