Does Working Out Really Help Anxiety?

A recent study showed that anxiety levels were significantly lower in people who worked out regularly. We take a look at the study and what it means for those with anxiety.


Exercise has long been known as a great way to destress and improve your overall mental and physical health, but recent studies have suggested that it may actually be beneficial in reducing anxiety, too. Research suggests that regular exercise can help to release endorphins in the brain that work to reduce stress levels, and even something as simple as walking regularly can help to improve physical and mental well-being. However, it’s important to note that the effects of exercise on anxiety are not necessarily immediate: it takes time for the beneficial hormones released by physical activity to reach peak levels in the body and cause significant changes in mood. In this article, we’ll explore how exercise affects anxiety and learn more about how it can be used to manage stress levels on a day-to-day basis.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry, or fear that can affect your mental and physical health. It is not always easy to identify and often even harder to deal with. However, understanding anxiety and its symptoms can help you better navigate how to manage it. In this article, we will explore how working out can help with both the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety is more than just stress. It is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes such as increased blood pressure. Symptoms of anxiety can range from mild to severe, and vary depending on the individual. Everyone experiences anxiety differently, so it is important to recognize the symptoms in yourself and to seek professional help if necessary.

Common symptoms of anxiety include:
-Feeling restless or on edge
-Uncontrollable worrying or negative thoughts
-Having difficulty concentrating or a racing mind
-Physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, trembling, nausea or diarrhea
-Sleep disturbances or fatigue
-Irritability or low grade depression
-Hypervigilance, feeling constantly on guard
-Avoiding activities that were once enjoyed

Causes of Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal human emotion that can occur in response to a real or perceived threat. Though the feeling of anxiety may be common, persistent and unmanaged anxiety can have a severely negative impact on day to day functioning. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults each year, or 18.1% of the population every year according to The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).

Anxiety is not one single disorder; it is an umbrella term used to describe several medical conditions including panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and specific phobias. Though different disorders may have unique symptoms and causes there are some potential general causes anxiety disorders can have in common including:

• A genetic predisposition
• Family history or past trauma
• Stressful life changes
• Personality traits
• The environment/situation you’re in
• Health issues such as thyroid problems or heart arrhythmias
• Substance abuse such as alcohol abuse/misuse
The combination of these factors can cause an individual to become overwhelmed and experience anxiousness which can lead to an anxiety disorder when not managed correctly.

How Working Out Can Help

Working out is a great way to help relieve stress and anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins, a feel-good hormone that is associated with happiness and improved mental clarity. It can also help to boost your self-confidence and help your mind focus on something positive. This article will delve into the various ways that working out can help with feelings of anxiety.

Physiological Benefits

Exercise is known to have several physiological benefits, including increasing endorphins which are responsible for creating a sense of euphoria. Endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that control your moods, providing a sense of well-being and calmness. Exercising also helps boost the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and social behavior.

Additionally, exercising releases chemical messengers called epinephrine and norepinephrine into your body’s bloodstream. These molecules trigger changes in blood flow throughout your body, promoting alertness and energy while reducing fatigue and muscle tension.

However, more studies need to be done to confirm these claims from various scientific institutions. Although some evidence shows that exercising can have positive effects on mental health, such as reducing feelings of depression or anxiety caused by hormones like cortisol, it is still unknown whether the effects persist in the long-term or not. In any event, physical activity is encouraged and believed to be beneficial for overall mental health management since it produces endorphins that produce mood-enhancing effects naturally without medication or additional supplements.

Mental Benefits

Mental health can not be ignored when considering the overall benefits of working out. Exercise has been found to be a natural protector against anxiety, depression and stress. Studies have shown that physical activity reduces stress hormones and increases endorphins. In general, people who work out regularly are less stressed than those who do not exercise.

Exercise can also help improve focus and cognitive functions due to increased blood flow to the brain. Mental clarity comes from oxygen and nutrients that increase alertness while preventing anxiety related distractions. Working out also encourages our brains to strengthen neural pathways which creates improved memory, reaction times and better decision making skills over time. Improved focus is something that many people strive for- exercise can make this goal a reality!

Working out isn’t just about physical fitness, it’s about emotional fitness too! Regular workouts not only help you stay physically strong but mentally strong as well. One way in which this happens is through self-esteem building activities such as setting goals and pushing your own boundaries in the gym or on the field/track/court, whatever it may be! Setting goals helps us to stay focused on something other than our worries or anxieties and gives us something positive to work towards in addition to feeling proud of our accomplishments once we have successfully achieved them. Working out isn’t just good for your body – it has powerful mental benefits too!

Types of Exercise

Exercise is a great way to help manage and reduce anxiety. It is known to boost endorphins and serotonin in the brain, which can improve mood and reduce stress. There are many types of exercise to choose from, each having its own benefits. This section will discuss the different types of exercise that can help with anxiety.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is an activity that uses large muscle groups to get breathing and heart rates up. This exercise can range from moderate-intensity activities such as walking, jogging and swimming to higher-intensity exercises like running, kickboxing and rowing. While aerobic exercise itself does not directly reduce anxiety levels, it promotes physical wellness and relaxation through endorphin production, which can lead to improved emotional states.

Aerobic activities are most beneficial when they become a regular part of your lifestyle; even as little as 30 minutes a day can have some impact on emotional well-being. To get the full benefit of these stress-reducing effects, aim for 40 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times per week. Increasing the intensity of the exercise routine gradually over time has the best overall effect in improving physical condition while reducing mental stress — win-win!

Strength Training

Strength training involves exercises that build muscle and increase strength by using resistance, such as weights or elastic bands. This type of exercise is not only beneficial for overall physical health, but it can also significantly improve emotional, mental and psychological health. Resistance training works to strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments in order to increase the body’s overall power. By building strength and increasing flexibility, you can become more resilient to physical stresses faced in everyday life.

Strength training can help alleviate stress and anxiety in many ways. It both releases endorphins (known as the “feel-good” hormones) into the bloodstream while also providing an outlet for releasing built-up tension. Studies have also indicated that regular strength training may reduce cortisol levels, leading to a decrease in anxious feelings and behaviors. Additionally, this type of exercise helps individuals develop self-esteem by rewarding them with tangible accomplishments through their results.

By taking up regular strength training sessions, individuals may begin to see a marked improvement in their mood or outlook on life due to the positive effects on mental wellbeing associated with this form of exercise.


Yoga is a great form of exercise for those dealing with anxiety because it focuses on physical poses, breathing exercises, and meditation to relax your body and mind. Yoga can be done at home or in a studio with an experienced instructor. When practicing yoga specifically for anxiety, the main focus should be the deep, slow breaths that help regulate your heart rate and alleviate stress. Pranayama (breathing) techniques can be incorporated into poses to maximize their calming effects. Additionally, gentle stretching helps stretch out tense muscles that may contribute to feelings of tightness or stress in the body. Many studies have found that yoga was actually more effective than relaxation techniques and medication in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Moreover, while there are many physical aspects to yoga such as improving strength and flexibility; traditional forms of yoga also involve stillness which can help you connect better with yourself – leading to improved mental health as well as physical health.

Tips for Working Out with Anxiety

Exercising can be a great way to cope with anxiety and reduce stress levels. Regular physical activity can help to release endorphins in the body and boost energy levels, making it easier to stay focused. Anxiety can make it hard to get motivated to work out, but there are a few tips that can help you stay motivated and make the most out of your workouts. Let’s take a look at these tips.

Start Slow

For those starting out with a regular workout routine to help manage their anxiety, it is important to start slowly. Exercising too strenuously at the beginning can cause feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion, potentially leading to longer recovery time or performance anxieties. A gradual increase in intensity and duration is best. Begin by committing to at least 3 workouts per week — such as a brisk 20-minute walk or gentle yoga session — that includes both aerobic and stretching activities for optimal results. Additionally, it’s important to listen to your body and give yourself permission to rest when needed. Taking breaks when you need them will ultimately help you break through the mental blocks that can cause setbacks with your workouts.

Set Realistic Goals

When adopting a regular exercise program, it’s important to set realistic goals. This will help you build confidence in your physical capabilities and keep you motivated. Start by setting attainable short-term goals, such as walking for 15 minutes three times a week. Over time, increase the amount of exercises and duration gradually so that you don’t become overwhelmed or discouraged. Be sure to reward yourself for reaching each goal — it’s the best way to give yourself a positive reinforcement.

Another way to stay on track is by developing an action plan and writing down the specific steps needed to reach your goals. Keep track of your progress in an exercise log or journal so that you can see what works best for you, identify any patterns or changes in your mood, and stay motivated as you work toward achieving your long-term fitness objectives.

Remember: self-care can come in many forms, including activities such as yoga, meditation, jogging, cycling or even simple stretching exercises like walking — any form of exercise that can help relax the body while keeping it physically active is important in managing anxiety levels. Taking control of your body through exercise will allow you to take control of your mind!

Find a Support Network

Having a network of people you trust and can rely on for support is invaluable for managing anxiety. Find a community or group of friends that understand your struggles with anxiety and make sure to get together with them as often as possible. It can be helpful to talk about your anxieties with people in the same situation, or gather tips from those who have already been through it. Additionally, having an understanding friend or family member who you can share your experiences with is beneficial in the long run, as they may be able to provide emotional support when needed. Learning relaxation strategies together can also help reduce stress and negative emotions associated with anxiety. Having someone by your side that understands what you’re going through and is willing to lend a helping hand will give you greater confidence when tackling difficult tasks like workout routines.


In conclusion, exercise can help reduce anxiety in many individuals. Regular physical activity has been shown to increase levels of neurotransmitters (chemicals that regulate mood) and reduce the body’s stress hormones. Working out can improve concentration, self-esteem, and social connectedness which are all essential in alleviating symptoms of anxiety.

It is important to remember that exercise isn’t a cure-all for anxiety, but it can be a great tool to help you manage your symptoms in addition to other forms of treatment. Everyone experiences anxiety differently, so make sure to listen to your body and pick activities that make you feel good. Exercise is a great way to get out of your head and into your body so it’s worth trying if you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed.

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