Can Working Out Help With Anxiety?

If you’re struggling with anxiety, you might be wondering if working out can help. The answer is yes! Exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment for anxiety, and it can also help to prevent anxiety from developing in the first place.


Anxiety is one of the most common forms of mental health disorders. It can disrupt daily life, leaving sufferers feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with everyday tasks and activities. Unfortunately, anxiety affects millions of people worldwide.

Fortunately, it is possible to manage anxiety through lifestyle changes such as exercise and nutrition. Exercise releases endorphins that can help reduce stress and improve mood. Regular physical activity can increase brain chemicals associated with improving self-esteem. Incorporating regular physical activity into one’s life can help mitigate the symptoms of anxiety, although there is no guarantee that exercise in itself will make a person “cure” their anxiety.

In this article, we will discuss how exercise can help with anxiety management, the types of exercises that may be beneficial in reducing symptoms, and how to find activities that you might enjoy participating in to reduce anxiety levels. We will also discuss safety tips when exercising while dealing with anxiety so that you can get the most out of your workouts without aggravating existing issues or causing yourself additional stress.

Benefits of Exercise

Exercise has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, improve mood, and combat depression, making it a helpful tool to combat anxiety. Exercise also releases endorphins, which can act as natural mood boosters and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Additionally, exercise can help to clear your mind which can help to make you more focused and productive. Let’s take a look at the different ways that exercise can help to alleviate anxiety.

Improved Physical Health

Regular exercise has been shown to offer tremendous health benefits, including improved physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Physically, routine exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reduce body fat, strengthen bones and muscles, and even improve the immune system by increasing the production of antibodies that fight infection. Exercise also helps to tone muscles, improve posture and balance while reducing stress on joints. In addition to improved physical health, regular exercise can also have a positive impact on mental and emotional health. Exercise releases chemicals known as endorphins which can promote feelings of pleasure and euphoria—effectively helping to alleviate stress as well as mild to moderate depression. Regular exercise can also increase energy levels and is linked with overall improved self-image.

Improved Mental Health

Participating in regular physical activity has numerous mental health benefits, including improved mood and lower levels of anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural ‘feel-good hormones.’ This ultimately can help improve your overall state of mind and reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. Additionally, exercise helps relieve tension, allowing you to relax and reduce ruminating thoughts associated with negative emotions.

In addition to the chemical changes associated with physical activity, participating in sports or exercise can help extend your social network as well as promote a healthy lifestyle routine. When engaging in physical activity you are also focusing on something other than sources of stress which allows for some respite from worrying or stressing about those issues. As a result people often report feeling more energized, more upbeat after exercising – the key to continued improvement is consistency! Start with increasing participation by gradually adding 30 minutes activities such as running, biking or swimming into your daily schedule.

Types of Exercise

Regular exercise can be a great way to help manage your anxiety. There are many different types of exercises that can be beneficial depending on your individual needs and preferences. For example, aerobic activities such as running and walking can help reduce anxiety symptoms while strength-training can help build muscle and reduce stress. In this section, we will explore the types of exercise that can help with anxiety.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise, also known as cardiovascular exercise, is any type of physical activity that keeps the heart rate elevated for a prolonged period of time. Generally speaking, it involves rhythmic movements and sustained exertion of large muscle groups while increasing the body’s oxygen consumption. Examples include jogging, running, swimming, cycling and brisk walking. The purpose of aerobic exercise is to increase air intake and improve heart flow in order to strengthen the cardiovascular system and burn more calories.

Regular aerobic exercise has numerous physiological benefits including increased muscular endurance, improved circulation and lowered blood pressure levels. It can also help reduce stress levels by decreasing cortisol production and accelerating the body’s natural calming chemicals like endorphins and serotonin. With regular participation in aerobic activity, individuals can experience improved mood regulation, better sleep patterns and a general reduction in stress-related symptoms such as anxiety.

Strength Training

Strength training, or resistance training, is a type of exercise that works to improve muscle strength and increase lean muscle mass. This type of exercise helps with anxiety by releasing natural endorphins and improving overall fitness. Additionally, it has been shown to boost confidence and self-esteem.

When doing strength training exercises, you should focus on movements that challenge your muscles and give them volume overload. Start by choosing compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, bent-over rows, pull-ups/pull-downs and shoulder presses. When your form is on point you can add more reps or move further into heavier weights starting at 5lbs then going up if needed. As time passes you will be able to challenge yourself more with additional exercises such as pushups, dips or planks for increased strength. Safely progressing with challenging exercises helps reduce anxiety levels over time as your body gets used to the intensity of the workouts.

Strength training is an integral part of reducing anxiety levels because it not only reduces physical tension but emotional tension as well while providing an outlet for feelings of stress or dread that are associated with having anxiety. It also provides a different kind of mental relief compared to aerobic activities like running which can help break up your workout routine so you’re not stuck doing one type every day which can become tedious over time.


Yoga is a popular form of exercise that is suitable for people of all ages and abilities. It incorporates physical activity, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques. Yoga can be an especially beneficial exercise for people struggling with anxiety as it has been found to be effective in reducing the symptoms of anxiety, making it one of the most accessible workouts for those looking to reduce stress and tension.

Yoga typically consists of a series of poses that are held for short periods of time while focusing on breathing. Depending on how vigorous or gentle the practice is, these poses can range from simply standing upright with proper posture to doing more complicated poses such as eagle pose, bridge pose, cobra pose and tree pose. Additionally, yoga involves mindfulness elements such as meditation and visualization which can help to refocus your thoughts away from anxious or stressful triggers.

The combination of yoga’s beneficial physical and mental practices makes it an ideal form of exercise for those suffering from anxiety and other mental health issues. Regularly performing yoga can reduce stress levels while increasing your endurance and strength through muscle flexing. Moreover, yoga reduces cortisol levels (the hormone associated with stress) which helps you stay in control during anxious moments. As a result, regular practice is sure to have a positive effect on your state-of-mind – so don’t be afraid to give it a try!

How to Get Started

Exercise can be an effective way to manage anxiety and reduce feelings of stress and panic. Working out not only helps reduce symptoms of anxiety, but it also promotes positive thinking and can even improve your overall mood. It can be intimidating to start a workout routine, especially if you are new to exercise, but there are a few simple tips you can follow to get started.

Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals is an essential part of beginning any physical activity. Before you begin working out, remind yourself that exercise can help with anxiety management but it isn’t a cure and the effects might not be immediate. Always keep the long-term in view when setting goals.

Start small, and focus on achievable objectives like being able to do a certain exercise for 30 seconds, or doing three sets of 10 reps of an exercise with two minutes rest in between each set. Setting tangible goals helps you plan ahead and track your progress towards managing anxiety, building confidence as you move forward. Breaking larger goals into smaller ones can help to improve motivation throughout the process by allowing for gradual progress that’s easy to measure and celebrate.

It’s also a good idea to constantly check your personal motivation so that it remains positive and focused on your goal (to reduce anxiety). Your initial enthusiasm will likely be fleeting if you try to do too much too soon — energy is finite so consider pacing yourself when making new goals so that they feel achievable. Being kind to yourself will also go a long way — practice self-care behaviors like getting enough sleep, hydrating regularly and eating healthy meals when exercising.

Find an Exercise Plan That Works for You

Getting started with your exercise plan can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. The key is finding an exercise regimen that works for you and finding activities that will help you reduce anxiety. You don’t have to complete marathon runs or head to the gym every day; any physical activity can help relieve stress and tension.

Here are a few activities to consider getting started with:
-Aerobics and dance classes: dancing not only helps relieve stress, it’s also a fun way to do some cardio! Look for classes offered near you, or even online if preferred.
-Yoga: yoga is a great way to center the mind and relax while still getting some exercise done. There are many classes available both in-person and online.
-Strength Training: lifting weights can help build muscle strength while also improving moods naturally!
-Running, jogging, or walking: focusing on breathing while running or walking can be calming, plus all of these activities don’t require too much added equipment – just some comfortable activewear and good shoes.

No matter which activity you decide on, make sure that it’s something enjoyable for you – this will make it easier for you stay motivated in the long run!

Consult With a Professional

Before beginning any type of workout program, it is important to first consult with a professional to determine what type of exercise regimen may be beneficial for your individual needs and level of fitness. Taking the time to speak with a medical professional about your mental health concerns can help you identify the most appropriate form of exercise for your specific case. Your healthcare provider will likely have some recommendations based on your physical condition, lifestyle, and any existing medical problems.

If you are dealing with anxiety or depression, it is especially important to talk to a doctor before embarking on an exercise routine. Working out can help alleviate certain symptoms of these conditions if done correctly, but engaging in physical activity that isn’t suitable for your needs could actually make matters worse. It is also essential that you communicate openly and honestly with any therapists or other professionals that you work with throughout this journey. Doing so will ensure that everyone involved understands why exercise might help in coping with anxiety and depression, as well as provide assurance that the right instructions are being followed.


In conclusion, working out can be an effective form of treatment that can help individuals manage anxiety symptoms. While research is still being done to understand the full effectiveness of exercise on anxiety and how best to apply it in therapy, results so far have demonstrated that regular physical activity and exercise can be a safe and viable part of an effective treatment plan. Exercise may not fully replace other forms of therapy, but it can help supplement existing treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Therapy to provide an overall greater level of mental health. Ultimately, individuals should work with their doctor or therapist to determine what type, frequency, and intensity of exercise would be most beneficial for their unique situation.

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