Does 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 you manage stress and improve your mood.


Many people are now considering exercise as a possible way to control and cope with anxiety. For some people, exercise can provide an outlet to blow off some steam and take a break from the worries that go along with anxiety. It can also help to improve mood and offer a natural endorphin rush. However, it’s important to understand that a regular exercise routine doesn’t guarantee a cure for the long-term. Let’s explore the connection between working out and anxiety to see if it’s an effective approach.

Overview of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a normal part of life — it’s a reaction to stress that helps protect us. But when excessive worry and fear become uncontrollable and interfere with daily activities, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. Anxiety Disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States, affecting more than 18% of the adult population each year.

Common types of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and separation anxiety disorder. Each type has its own associated symptoms, though there may be some overlap between them. Symptoms can range from feeling nervous or on edge when confronted with certain situations or people to full-blown panic attacks with physical effects such as a racing heart or difficulty breathing.

There are many resources available for those who suffer from an anxiety disorder – treatments vary by type of disorder, but typically involve talk therapy (including cognitive behavioral therapy) and/or medications to help manage symptoms. Additionally, lifestyle changes such as regular physical activity have been shown to have positive effects on reducing symptoms of some types of anxiety disorders.

Physiological Effects of Exercise

Exercise has a variety of beneficial effects on your physical and mental health. With regard to anxiety, exercise can be a powerful tool to help reduce the symptoms. Studies have shown that exercise can reduce stress, increase endorphins and serotonin, and improve your sleep patterns. In this section, we will discuss the physiological effects of exercise on anxiety and how it can help you manage the symptoms.

Stress Hormones

Physical activity has long been associated with a heightened sense of well-being, but recent studies suggest it can have a significant impact on our mental health. Researchers have identified that regular exercise can reduce stress hormones such as adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol to bring relief from stress, depression and anxiety.

The body’s sympathetic nervous system is responsible for producing these hormones when we feel threatened or stressed. Regular physical workouts create an imbalance in the hormones which ultimately leads to a relaxation of the mind and body. This makes working out an ideal way to de-stress and improve overall mental health. Exercise may also alter serotonin levels in the brain by increasing its production, resulting in improved mood, sense of well-being and decreased anxiety levels.

In addition to these physiological effects, exercise can also lead to an improved self-image and reduced feelings of isolation; it has long been known that activity in group sports or team building exercises help boost social interaction by promoting greater connection between individuals participating in the same activity. These aspects of exercise can help individuals with anxiety or depression by providing valuable outlets for communication with others going through similar experiences, developing positivity and building problem solving skills that may be useful when dealing with challenging circumstances in life.

Brain Chemicals

Research suggests that exercise can reduce symptoms of anxiety by helping to balance brain chemicals in the body. Revving up your heart rate during physical activity increases levels of endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. Endorphins act as natural painkillers and stress relievers, while dopamine can improve concentration and sense of pleasure. Serotonin is believed to have a calming effect on the mind, leading to more positive thinking.

Additionally, exercise increases levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which is known as the brain’s natural calming agent. Exercise also reduces levels of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline which are typically linked with elevated levels of stress. By level out these hormones, physical activity promotes feelings of relaxation.

It’s important to maintain regular physical activity for ongoing benefits; this could mean several times a week for 30 minutes or longer depending on your individual needs and goals. Weight training can be particularly effective in reducing anxiety since it encourages changes in hormonal balance over time. A mix of both aerobic exercises (such as running or swimming) and anaerobic exercises (strength training or interval training) should be used for maximum benefit – though structured routines may look different for everyone trying to reduce their stress or anxiety

Psychological Benefits of Exercise

Working out can have a huge positive impact on your mental health. Studies have shown that exercise can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as improve overall wellbeing. Exercise can help to distract from negative thoughts and boost self-confidence. In this section, we’ll look at all the psychological benefits of exercise and how it can help with anxiety.

Improved Self-Esteem

Regular exercise can help you to improve your self-esteem and confidence. When you work out your body releases endorphins, a hormone that will make you feel more positive and have more energy. After a good workout, most people feel energized and capable of managing stress. Over time, people who exercise regularly will find they have greater confidence in themselves and feel more competent in other areas of life such as facing difficult situations. Additionally, if you set reasonable goals and achieve them with consistent exercise then this will help build self-worth over time. Regular physical activity may also help to increase feelings of happiness, which can lead to a stronger sense of overall wellbeing.

Increased Sense of Control

Exercising regularly can help increase a person’s sense of control and mastery over their body and their environment. This improved sense of control is a result of the feeling that comes from achieving goals and pushing oneself to attain a higher level of physical fitness. Exercising regularly can also indirectly produce feelings of control by providing an alternative focus for attention, instead of worrying about stressors and anxieties.

Regular exercise can provide an emotional release or distraction from stressful or worrying aspects of life, by occupying the mind with the physical exertion needed to complete the workout routine. This distraction can replace anxious thoughts with positive ones while directly contributing to better mental health outcomes such as improved self-image, stress relief, and reduced levels of depression and anxiety. Improved cognitive functioning can be seen in both adults and children who engage in regular physical activity which results in increased alertness and productivity levels as well as greater mental clarity.

Exercise produces endorphin compounds which act directly on the brain receptors to create calming effects, reducing anxiety levels while bringing about modifications in mood such as increased euphoria, blissful sensations, reduced boredom or tediousness, and decreased levels of irritability or edginess resulting in a prolonged positive state or feeling. Moreover, exercising regularly has been found to be one of the biggest predictors that an individual will experience improved overall health-related quality-of-life by improving sleep patterns, reducing fatigue resulting from stressors or worry lines worry. These effects spread beyond psychological benefits into general wellbeing through various biochemical pathways that have beneficial hormonal implications for chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease management or diabetes prevention/management programs.

Types of Exercise

Exercise can have a positive impact on your mental health and can help to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. That is why it is important to find a type of exercise that suits you and that you enjoy. The types of exercise you can do range from yoga to HIIT workouts and everything in between. Let’s take a closer look at the types of exercise that can be beneficial for reducing stress and anxiety.


One of the most popular forms of exercise for those who suffer from anxiety is cardio. Also known as aerobic exercise, this type of exercise helps reduce stress levels by releasing endorphins and improving your overall physical conditioning. In addition to the many mental health benefits, regular cardio can lead to significant health benefits including improved heart health, increased endurance and improved strength. There are several types of aerobic exercise that can be enjoyable and beneficial such as running or jogging, cycling, swimming, rowing and walking. You can do these activities solo or with a group of people depending on your comfort level. Working out in an outdoor environment such as a park could help reduce anxiety further by providing a connection to nature which can have calming effects on one’s mood. Furthermore, it’s important to select an activity that you will enjoy so that you will feel motivated to stick with it!

Strength Training

Strength Training is a form of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance and size of skeletal muscles. In addition to improving specialized fitness components, strength training has been shown to have profound effects on a wide variety of physical and psychological aspects of health and fitness. Strength Training can help reduce stress, improve posture, balance and coordination, increase bone density and build endurance. Strength training can also help reduce anxiety by releasing endorphins which are “feel good” hormones that offer positive reinforcement for completing a workout. By engaging in regular strength training you not only improve your overall physical activity and muscle tone but you also receive the added benefit of improved mental health with reduced levels of stress and anxiety.


Yoga is an excellent way to reduce stress and can be helpful for those struggling with anxiety. It combines physical poses, breathing exercises and meditations which have been found to help manage various types of psychological disorders, including anxiety.

Yoga involves stretching the body in various postures while practicing different breathing techniques. These postures and breathing exercises are meant to induce relaxation, while promoting physical and mental wellbeing by bringing balance to the mind and body. The combination of physical activity and deep breathing has been known to reduce anxious thoughts by releasing “feel-good” brain chemicals that can help regulate moods.

The practice of yoga also helps increase energy levels; reducing fatigue which can cause further anxiety. Increased energy levels can create a greater interest in other activities outside of yoga, such as paying attention to diet or talking with a therapist or counselor about the emotions that might be causing the anxiety in the first place. Yoga is also a mindful practice, helping individuals observe themselves without judgement – making it easier for people suffering from anxiety to explore their thoughts without criticism or fear of judgement from others.


In conclusion, there is certainly some evidence to suggest that regular physical activity can help reduce symptoms of anxiety. However, it is important to remember that exercise cannot replace traditional treatments for anxiety, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or medications prescribed by a doctor. It is also important to seek professional help if you feel overwhelmed by anxiety or think you may have an anxiety disorder. Therefore, exercise can be a helpful adjunct to other treatments, but it is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

Summary of Benefits

Working out regularly can provide a number of mental health benefits. Exercising can help to increase endorphin levels, which results in a feeling of euphoria and improved self-esteem. It can also reduce stress and anxiety through releasing tension built up in body and mind. Additionally, working out can increase communication between different parts of the brain, which helps to improve attention and concentration. Regular exercise also has been known to reduce inflammation overall in the body, making users less prone to disease and further mental health issues that could arise from it.

In summary, working out does have proven benefits for reducing anxiety symptoms and overall mental health by improving moods, reducing inflammation-causing hormones like stress hormones, increasing focus levels, improving communication between sections of the brain, and creating an overall happier outlook on life. Furthermore, these effects are compounded when regular physical activity is part of an individual’s lifestyle; this routine is more likely to result in lasting improvements compared to sporadic exercise patterns.

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