Anxiety & Exercise

When it comes to anxiety, exercise does what medicine can’t. According to latest research, exercise can reduce anxiety and make you feel physically healthy in the process.

What is anxiety? Anxiety is higher degree of stress than is normal. People with generalized anxiety disorder tend to respond to ordinary situations as if it they were dangerous. The body can’t handle the onslaught of internal and external tension

For many, anxiety can be a precursor to depression. Think of anxiety as the body’s alarm system telling us that if our state of nervousness does not change, a panic attack, followed by a complete shutdown (i.e. depression) will take place.

The panic attack is the most intense form of anxiety. When someone experiences a panic attack, the periaqueductal grey region of the brain is activated. This area of the brain plays a key role in defensive behavior, phobia and immobilization. Many people attempt to mask feelings of anxiety with by overeating or abusing alcohol or drugs, including pain medication.

But there is a better answer. Unlike food, alcohol and drugs, moderate exercise with wellness trainer can actually help reduce anxiety and panic attacks. Even better, moderate-to-high intensity exercises forces the body to produce important neurotransmitters and chemicals in the brain and body.

Anxiety Video

Muscle tension and cramping are common side effects of anxiety. But moderate-to-high intensity physical activity can decrease the resting tension of the muscular system, which interferes with the brain’s anxiety feedback loop. It also doesn’t hurt that exercise breaks down fat cells into fuel, which reduces body fat and increases self worth.

Exercise also creates calming chemical effect on the body and brain. And when the body calms down, the brain is less prone to stress. Exercise does this by producing the amino acid tryptophan, which helps to activate the chemical serotonin, and important factor in maintaining a stable mood. Other chemicals, known as “brain derived neurotrophic factor” or BDNF, also work with tryptophan to recruit endorphins, something that also helps calm us down and enhance the feeling of wellbeing.

When you suffer from anxiety, the delicate balance between two important neurotransmitters called glutamate and gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA), is out of whack. That’s because stress, anxiety and panic attacks increase the secretion of glutamate higher than GABA. That is a problem, because elevated levels of glutamate, together with cortisol and adrenaline, puts the body and brain into a state of high alert. That chemical situation can make a normal situation seem very dangerous.

Anxiety also disrupts normal sleep pattern. That can make things even more difficult, as fatigue can make people more susceptible to depression. Many are prescribed Xanax by their doctor to treat anxiety, but when done correctly, exercise can do a better job than drugs.

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