Exercise can effectively treat anxiety, study finds

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

In a new study from the University of Gothenburg, researchers found both moderate and strenuous exercise alleviate symptoms of anxiety, even when the disorder is chronic.

The study is based on 286 patients with anxiety syndrome. Half of the patients had lived with anxiety for at least ten years. Their average age was 39 years, and 70 percent were women.

Through drawing of lots, participants were assigned to group exercise sessions, either moderate or strenuous, for 12 weeks.

The results showed that their anxiety symptoms were strongly reduced even when the anxiety was a chronic condition, compared with a control group who received advice on physical activity according to public health recommendations.

Most individuals in the treatment groups went from a baseline level of moderate to high anxiety to a low anxiety level after the 12-week program.

For those who exercised at relatively low intensity, the chance of improvement in terms of anxiety symptoms rose by a factor of 3.62.

The corresponding factor for those who exercised at higher intensity was 4.88. Participants had no knowledge of the physical training or counseling people outside their own group were receiving.

The team says there was a strong intensity trend for improvement—the more intensely they exercised, the more their anxiety symptoms improved.

Previous studies of physical exercise in depression have shown clear symptom improvements.

However, a clear picture of how people with anxiety are affected by exercise has been lacking up to now. The present study is described as one of the largest to date.

Both treatment groups had 60-minute training sessions three times a week, under a physical therapist’s guidance.

The sessions included both cardio (aerobic) and strength training. A warmup was followed by circle training around 12 stations for 45 minutes, and sessions ended with a cooldown and stretching.

Today’s standard treatments for anxiety are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotropic drugs.

However, these drugs commonly have side effects, and patients with anxiety disorders frequently do not respond to medical treatment. Long waiting times for CBT can also worsen the prognosis.

If you care about anxiety, please read studies about this sound wave therapy may help treat depression, anxiety and findings of a natural food supplement may relieve anxiety.

For more information about anxiety and your health please see recent studies about this TB medication may help fight anxiety and fear and results showing that why some people are more prone to anxiety.

The study is published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. One author of the study is Malin Henriksson.

Copyright © 2021 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.