Anxiety is a problem that everyone in general struggles with in some way, shape, or form. For those of us on this site, however, it tends to be more of a problem than others. An effective way of reducing anxiety is to engage in regular exercise. A study conducted by Landers and Pettruzello examined the results of twenty-seven narrative reviews that had occurred between 1960 and 1991. Of these twenty-seven reviews, “…81% of them the authors had concluded that physical activity/fitness was related to anxiety reduction following exercise and there was little or no conflicting data presented in these reviews” (Landers, 1997). For the remaining cases, Landers and Pettruzello found that the findings were supportive of exercise’s anxiety-reducing effects. None of the cases reviewed found a non-existent relationship.
For me, personally, exercise has brought about many positive effects. The most obvious effect is that it, of course, reduces anxiety. I have taken several other steps in my life to reduce anxiety, so I am really not sure to what extent exercise has helped, although I have no doubt that it has indeed helped. Aside from reducing anxiety, regular exercise encourages a positive mood, increased self-confidence, and increased self-esteem. Aside from this, it increases your energy and allows for healthier aging. I have found that the key to exercising is making the exercise enjoyable; if something is enjoyable, one will want to engage it in more often, and it will not provoke additional anxiety. My current exercise routine is to play basketball for thirty minutes three times per week, and also weight lift at least once, possibly twice if I have the time. I also do some running, and tend to increase the amounts of exercise as the amount of time I have increases with the end of the college semester. Everybody’s exercise routines will vary; the key to the whole thing is to figure out what one enjoys and engage in that on a consistent basis. Sometimes, bringing a friend a long, taking a class, or exercising in groups can be more motivating for those who have trouble motivating themselves, and besides that, this is also a great time to step out of one’s anxious shell and make some friends!
How much exercise is recommended? Most experts recommend about four to five hours per day. Just kidding! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should get
“about 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and [engage in]muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms)(2008).”
Adults may modify this number to seventy-five minutes of vigorous aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running), and two muscle-strengthening activities working all major muscle groups.
Alternatively, adults can mix-and-match moderate and vigorous activity, combined with the recommended level of muscle strengthening. For maximum effectiveness, adults should engage in five
hours of moderate-intensity exercise, or two-and-a-half hours of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, combined with the recommendation for muscle-strengthening. Finally, the CDC states that exercise is
effective so long as it is used a minimum of ten minutes per session, which helps out those of us who live very hectic lifestyles.
The positive effects of exercise obviously far outweigh the possible negative drawback of injury. The main point to keep in mind is to find a way to keep yourself motivated and engaged in regular exercise that you enjoy! What are you waiting for? Get out there and exercise!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2008). How much physical activity do adults need? Retrieved November 20, 2008, from http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html
Landers, D.M. (1997). The Influence of Exercise on Mental Health. The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Research Digest, 2(12). Retrieved November 20, 2008, from http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/090208p28.shtml