This Is the Perfect Type of Exercise to Calm Anxiety

Both moderate and strenuous exercise relieve symptoms, even when the disorder is chronic

This is the perfect type of exercise to calm anxiety

The anxiety is a natural adaptive mechanism that alerts us to events committed. The problem comes when that reaction is no longer moderate, the system is overwhelmed and works incorrectly, points out the Spanish Society of Internal Medicine (SEMI).

The exercise is a good way to ease anxiety, and many other benefits that come to our health, such as prevention and management of noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.

Both moderate and strenuous exercise relieve anxiety symptoms, even when the disorder is chronic, a study led by researchers at the University of Gothenburg shows.

More anxiety among women 

The study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders , is based on 286 anxiety syndrome patients recruited from primary care services in Gothenburg and the northern part of Halland County.

Half of the patients had lived with anxiety for at least ten years. Their average age was 39 and 70% were women. By lottery, participants were assigned to moderate or strenuous group exercise sessions for 12 weeks .

The results show that their anxiety symptoms were significantly alleviated even when anxiety was a chronic condition, compared to a control group that received advice on physical activity according to public health recommendations.

More intense exercise to reduce anxiety

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

For those who exercised at a relatively low intensity, the chance of improvement in terms of anxiety symptoms increased by a factor of 3.62. The corresponding factor for those who exercised at a higher intensity was 4.88.

“There was a significant intensity trend towards improvement, that is, the more intensely they exercised , the more their anxiety symptoms improved,” explains the study’s first author and PhD student at the Sahlgrenska Academy of the University of Gothenburg, Malin Henriksson. .

Cardiovascular and strength training

The researchers value the study and say that until now a clear picture of how people with anxiety are affected by exercise has been lacking.

Both treatment groups had 60-minute training sessions three times a week, under the guidance of a physical therapist. Sessions included cardiovascular (aerobic) and strength training .

A warm-up was followed by circle training around 12 stations for 45 minutes and the sessions ended with cool-down and stretching. The group members who exercised at a moderate level were destined to reach about 60% of their maximum heart rate, a degree of exertion rated as mild or moderate. In the group that trained most intensely, the goal was to reach 75% of maximum heart rate, and this degree of exertion was perceived as high.

The levels were periodically validated using the Borg scale , an established rating scale for perceived physical exertion, and confirmed with heart rate monitors.