January 28, 2022 3:00:12 pm
A new study has revealed that workouts don’t only boost physical health but can also help improve symptoms of mental health issues, like anxiety.
Published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, the study was conducted on 286 patients with anxiety disorder. As per experts, “anxiety is largely internal” and depends on how you react to stressors. “Often, even after the cessation or removal of stressors, some individuals may still feel overwhelmed and/or distressed. This distress is called anxiety. It is an exaggerated reaction or response to a given situation. If the worry and distress you feel in a given situation is unusual, excessive, or lasts much longer than most others, it may be anxiety,” said Narendra Kinger, clinical psychologist and founder, ‘Talk To Me’.
In the study, the average age of patients was 39 years with 70 per cent of them being women. The study participants were divided into two groups. They were asked to exercise for 12 weeks.
While one group was asked to perform low-intensity workouts under adequate supervision, the other group was asked to do moderate/high-intensity workouts. During this, the heartbeat and other body parameters were kept in regular check.
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The study further revealed that approximately half of the participants had lived with anxiety for over 10 years at baseline.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
Symptoms of anxiety include feeling restless, tense, nervous and a general feeling of dread. Anxiety may also manifest in the form of specific phobias (such as fear of flying) or as social anxiety, which is marked by a pervasive fear of social situations.
Physical activity, a nutritious and varied diet, and good sleep hygiene are a good starting point to control these symptoms, said Mayurnath Reddy, consultant psychiatrist, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad in an earlier interview.
Here’s how physical activity makes a difference.
Any form of physical activity can give a sense of control, which is desperately needed as anxiety can often follow with a sense of losing control and overthinking the worst possible scenarios, said Pranit Shilimkar, health and fitness entrepreneur, digital content creator and founder, Fitnesstalks.
“Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues in today’s time. Not only does it put you in a constant state of ‘worrying’ or overthinking, but it also has physical repercussions that can lead to lifestyle disorders like diabetes and respiratory issues. In my experience, working out is a simple yet effective remedy and definitely an incredible way keep away the effects of anxiety,” he said.
According to Shilimkar, exercise is a “terrific distraction” and it helps the body to reduce muscle tension and increase blood flow. “Individuals suffering from anxiety have often complained about a clenched or rigid body leading to soreness. Secondly, working out has been proven to release endorphins in our brain, the feel-good chemicals that can help to fight chronic anxiety and its symptoms,” he asserted.
Agreed Dr Shweta Sharma, clinical psychologist and founder, Mansa Global Foundation for Mental Health, and explained that as anxiety is a result of overthinking, when your body and mind are indulged in other productive activities this overthinking automatically decreases due to distraction. “Workout also increases neurochemicals which are responsible for our happy emotions and you feel content. But that workout needs to be in a balanced manner. We can’t get anxiety patients into hardcore exercises and higher fitness goals otherwise it will create another related anxiety,” said
In fact, Dr Sharma stated how cognitive behaviour therapy for anxiety, one of the most effective treatment in such cases, also focuses on the distraction of thoughts with relaxation. Similarly, physical exercises can be aligned for better results.
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