The wonderful team (and in particular, Dan Chabert) at Runnerclick.com have been kind enough to provide me with the following article.
As someone who has personally been affected by depression and anxiety in the past, I can attest that regular exercise can improve your mood and, in turn, really change your life. I truly believe that exercise “cured” my depression (thank you, endorphins). While this may not be true for everyone, and some of you may not agree with the statements below, it is definitely an enlightening read.
FITNESS: THE ONLY KNOWN CURE FOR ANXIETY
Psychological symptoms such as anxiety have been scientifically proven to affect multiple aspects of fitness like endurance, conditioning, and concentration. However, fitness can positively affect psychological symptoms, and reduce both anxiety and stress. Fitness does not only keep our body in shape, but it also works our minds as well. Daily exercise is powerful enough to notably reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, also improving your overall psychological and physical health.
Multiple researches have been performed to study the relation between anxiety and fitness, and how they affect each other. Studies conducted by the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Harvard Medical School as well as other health organizations and private researchers have revealed that fitness maintains a solid mental state and it can reduce anxiety and stress.
Exercise is very effective at diminishing fatigue, while enhancing awareness and focus. It is also proven to increase our cognitive capacity in general. This comes in extremely handy when anxiety clouds your mind and stops you from focusing.
Sessions of yoga, running, and other dynamic activities have shown to stabilize anxiety issues that affect the brain. Some people underestimate the effects that anxiety can produce to their body, thinking it´s just a psychological issue and not realizing how taxing it can be for their physical activities.
The US Department of Health and Human Services performed an investigation in which they found that participating in multiple fitness activities and aerobic training will reduce considerable amounts of mental tension, improve self-esteem and overall mood. Exercise works as a natural cure for anxiety and other psychosomatic symptoms.
Using Fitness as Psychological Therapy
For a long time, many psychologists have included exercise and fitness activities such as running, yoga, bike riding and swimming to their therapy. In fact, regular sessions of such activities may have an effect even greater than any possible medication.
While exercising, your body produces considerable amounts of endorphins, which work as completely natural analgesics for your mind, also refining sleep. After beginning a session, some people might be able to note important changes in their mood during the first 10 minutes of exercise, stimulating effects that reduce nervousness.
If exercising has a positive impact on your mind during short training sessions, making a frequent exercise schedule can be a definitive solution to your mental stress. Fitness will help you keep a clear mind and a healthy body all at the same time, it doesn´t get any better than that.
However, each therapy has a different outcome on each patient just like in any other case. Your body may generate a positive reaction when training and perhaps even relieve your anxiety for good, just like it might not have any impact at all on your symptoms. Regardless, one thing is for sure; fitness will help you improve your physical health, and this is undeniable.
Incorporating Exercise to your Therapy
For optimal results, you should look for a physical activity that best suits your personal preferences. Some anxiety patients prefer to clear their mind with a calm and quiet activity; practicing yoga is a perfect solution for these cases.
For more active exercises, running is an awesome idea. Going out for a jog with fresh air is very likely to reduce your mental symptoms in a matter of minutes. Concentrate on the path, admire everything throughout your trip and let your mind take off from daily pressure and anxiety. Running will clear up your mind while improving important aspects of your physical form.
You can always get a running buddy to add an extra layer of distraction to your exercise therapy. Social interaction while exercising is a great way to distract your mind from anxiety, stress, depression and other symptoms that cloud your brain. Some therapists recommend running or exercising with other patients of similar cases. Group therapy allows you to measure your progress along with other people under similar circumstances to yours.
If you prefer individual therapy, a playlist of your favorite relaxing music is always a great companion. Select songs that have a positive impact in your mood, ones that help you relax and that you can feel working with your activity. Music also has a very interesting scientific background in reducing symptoms like anxiety and similar.
If your body or mind can´t get used to physical activities, it might be an indicator that you need more time to adapt yourself. Don´t quit if you don´t see immediate progress, experiment different methods of practicing each activity and let your body adapt for one to two months before giving up on exercise therapy.
Fitness & Anxiety Disorders
Everyone has been through anxiety during a point of their life. However, when it comes to anxiety disorders, over 35 million people compose the most common symptom in the United States– This is where fitness comes in.
Research suggests that when it comes to anxiety, the exercise intensity is not really relevant to the treatment. A calm 15-minute long walk can be as effective as an hour-long intense training session. It´s a matter of personal comfort, where your body and mind try to find an activity that distracts you from these disorders.
A single exercise session will produce temporary results. A simple walk across the park can provide multiple hours of mind peace and declining in negative psychological symptoms; this effect is similar to the one of an analgesic for a common pain.
Not only does fitness work as a solution, but is also works as a prevention method. Investigators point out that people who practice physical activities are less likely to suffer from anxiety. Making fitness a habit in your life can lessen the amounts of anxiety.
Dan is an entrepreneur from Copenhagen, Denmark. He is a husband first and ultramarathon distance runner second. The websites monicashealthmag.com, nicershoes.com & runnerclick.com keep him busy, as well as being featured in many different runner blogs all over the world.