If you have been diagnosed with having anxiety in one or more of its forms your doctor will almost certainly prescribe drug therapies that aim or claim to reduce your symptoms. Even if you haven’t been formally diagnosed, if you are suffering the symptoms of anxiety you may be led to ask your doctor for something to help you. However, before you undertake a course of prescription anti-anxiety medication, consider natural remedies, including physical exercise.
Exercise can be just as good as prescription drugs for anxiety.
Many studies have shown that exercise can be just as good as prescription drugs in relieving the symptoms of anxiety. The important difference is that unlike these drugs exercise is totally free of negative side effects. The most likely side effect is that you have the additional benefits of becoming leaner and healthier. Exercising on a daily basis can drastically lower your anxiety levels while it contributes to your overall health.
A research team based at Princeton University states:
The researchers report in the Journal of Neuroscience that when mice allowed to exercise regularly experienced a stressor — exposure to cold water — their brains exhibited a spike in the activity of neurons that shut off excitement in the ventral hippocampus, a brain region shown to regulate anxiety.
The only real requirement is a pair of good shoes. Forget about the fancy equipment and expensive gear. Go for the types of exercise, like walking, that are easy to do at any time.
Inactivity breeds many health problems.
In order for us to understand how exercise reduces anxiety levels we must first recognize that inactivity or being sedentary is one of the major culprits for many health problems including anxiety disorders.
The American Psychological Association states:
… some psychologists don’t think it’s a simple matter of more norepinephrine equals less stress and anxiety and therefore less depression. Instead, they think exercise thwarts depression and anxiety by enhancing the body’s ability to respond to stress.
Biologically, exercise seems to give the body a chance to practice dealing with stress. It forces the body’s physiological systems — all of which are involved in the stress response — to communicate much more closely than usual: The cardiovascular system communicates with the renal system, which communicates with the muscular system. And all of these are controlled by the central and sympathetic nervous systems, which also must communicate with each other. This workout of the body’s communication system may be the true value of exercise; the more sedentary we get, the less efficient our bodies in responding to stress.
Although there is much speculation on the exact relationship between anxiety and exercise, many experts suggest the following:
One of the causes of anxiety is unused energy in the body.
The human body is designed to move. This is why we are made mostly of bones and muscles. However if a person spends most of their time being sedentary, then tension will then start to build up inside the body. This tension is caused by unused energy. It may manifest in the beginning as physical tension but later on it will develop into mental tension which can open the door to the symptoms of anxiety.
High levels of stress hormones can lead to anxiety.
Anxiety also serves as part of our fight or flight system. So, if an individual experiences anxiety and stress, his body is expecting him to fight or flight, and prepares instantly for it.
When a person experiences this kind of stress, his body will start releasing stress hormones such as cortisol. These stress hormones can be depleted with increased physical activity. This means that the more you move, the more chances your body will have in bringing those stress hormones back to normal levels.
On the other hand, if a person is not participating in any sort of physical activity, the body will be less likely to get rid of those stress hormones. If high levels of stress hormones remain in the body a person continues to feel agitated, leading to continued increased levels of anxiety.
Exercise therefore plays a huge role in regulating our body’s stress hormone levels. It is also important in improving one’s immune system. When a person refuses to exercise or to indulge in any physical activity she is keeping her body from working towards boosting the immune system and regulating the stress hormone levels.
Many people are not pre-disposed to physical exercise as they have not had many positive experiences with their previous exercise efforts. This could be part of the reason why those people who prefer to be sedentary are more prone to experiencing symptoms.
In addition, those people who do not like to exercise or make extra efforts to keep their bodies moving are prone to developing many health problems that bring about anxiety. If exercise is approached with the right attitude it can be found that exercise and physical activities provide people with fun and joyful moments. Make a plan, set goals and stay with your plan until it is a habit.
Have you found that regular exercise helps you take control of your anxiety?
See you in the comments,