According to some studies, regular exercise works as well as medication for some people to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the effects can be. We also encourage you to visit our managing stress and anxiety website page for helpful Anxiety Tips ADAA and MHA Collaboration Oct westernkentuckyvsfloridaintllive.us Numerous well-designed studies have found exercise to be effective in elevating mood and reducing symptoms of depression. As for anxiety, many research.
in Anxiety Depression Reduction and
Research shows MBCT reduces rates of relapse among patients who suffer from recurrent depression. It takes close attention and stick-to-itiveness to make it work, which is why a practice that allows one to develop the habit of seeing thoughts without immediately reacting could be an ideal adjunct to the cognitive practice—and in fact create a hybrid that is more than the combination of the two. When CBT meets mindfulness, the emphasis shifts from changing or fixing the content of our challenging thoughts to becoming more intimately and consistently aware of these thoughts and patterns.
The awareness itself reduces the grip of persistent and pernicious thought loops and storylines. Like MBSR, the eight-week program occurs in two-hour weekly classes with a mid-course day-long session. It combines guided meditations with group discussions, various kinds of inquiry and reflection, and take-home exercises.
This is one of the most popular practices in the 8-week MBCT program. It allows you to shift your attention away from automatic, multitasking patterns of thought to help you get unstuck. Being unwilling to experience negative thoughts, feelings, or sensations is often the first link in a mental chain that can lead to automatic, habitual, and critical patterns of mind becoming re-established.
By accepting unpleasant experiences, we can shift our attention to opening up to them. Read more about how acceptance, a key aspects of MBCT training, helps you work with tough emotions. Is it shallow and choppy, or long and smooth? Calm the rush of panic to your body with this anti-anxiety breathing practice. Consider these informal practices instead.
Sometimes it suffices simply to pause and take deep breaths, expanding the inbreath and slowing the outbreath—a technique that helps during 2 a. As is typical for mindfulness-based interventions, no overarching body governs MBCT, but a number of very qualified senior teachers have taken it on since the program was founded, and centers in Toronto, the UK, and San Diego offer professional training and certification.
Similarly, few studies used the same instruments to measure anxiety outcomes, and in many cases, these measures appear to be specific to one population e. Existing RCTs also had other methodological problems that limit our ability to draw definitive conclusions. One third of the trials did not control for outside interventions for anxiety. For example, in the one RCT that had a sample of over participants, participants assigned to exercise also received CBT and relaxation training concurrently 77 , 78 , which seriously detracted from the methodological quality of the study.
Another RCT only delivered exercise in the context of a mindfulness intervention Intent-to-treat analysis was reported in only half of the studies, with one of these reporting primarily an analysis of completers 67 , 68 , In many cases, self-report outcomes were the only posttest measures of anxiety employed. Taken together, examination of what are widely considered the most important methodological quality indicators revealed that existing studies have significant methodological weaknesses and a moderate risk of bias.
One way to determine the strength of exercise as an effective treatment for anxious individuals is to observe a dose-response effect. Such evidence would be critical to establishing a direct treatment effect of exercise on anxiety.
Unfortunately, this important issue has been minimally explored in the literature. A prior meta-analysis 49 , which found an overall benefit of exercise for anxiety reduction, attempted to quantify a dose-response relationship.
One trial of individuals with Panic Disorder did compare directly the effects of a single bout of light or heavy physical activity on panic symptoms, finding that more intense activity did have a greater antipanic effect However, this study enrolled a sample of only 18 participants and had no non-exercise control group. Because no rigorous RCTs have conducted a direct, experimental comparison of exercise volume intensity and duration on anxious participants, an optimal dose of exercise cannot be determined.
Randomizing participants to differing intensities or frequencies of exercise is needed to determine the optimal dose of exercise to reduce anxiety.
This approach has been used successfully in research on exercise for depression but has not been investigated for anxiety.
Our review revealed that exercise interventions often were unsupervised and that intensity and frequency of exercise was typically either not reported or not manipulated as part of the study design.
For example, some running interventions encouraged participants to increase their pace over several weeks, but only one session per week was supervised 67 , 68 , 69 , 84 , and in other RCTs, participants were directed to do exercise of their choosing 70 , 71 , Of note, some trials of single-bout exercise have suggested that a dose-response effect may exist, though findings have been equivocal.
For example, one study found that healthy individuals completing 20 minutes of low-intensity resistance exercise with weightlifting machines had immediate reductions in state anxiety, whereas anxiety increased among the high-intensity group Another study found significant reductions in anxiety sensitivity for healthy individuals completing low- and high-intensity treadmill exercise, with greater reductions among the high-intensity group Importantly, individuals can give differing self-reports of their affective response after a single bout of exercise, depending on how soon this self-report is solicited Further research to address the optimal dose of exercise is needed.
Few studies have examined exercise as an adjunctive treatment. We identified one RCT 75 , 76 that examined the effect of exercise compared to education control among anxious participants receiving group CBT; no treatment group differences were observed. Another study 84 used a 2x2 design to explore the utility of aerobic exercise and an SSRI paroxetine , separately and combined, with no differences for combined versus unimodal treatment.
Further research is needed to confirm whether adding exercise to other treatments confers a benefit to individuals with anxiety. The issue of the mechanism s by which exercise affects anxiety seldom has been studied, although several potential pathways have been identified Potential physiological explanations include regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal HPA axis, increases in serotonergic and noradrenergic levels in the brain, and endogenous opioid release.
Psychological factors may also play a key role. For example, interventions such as CBT for anxiety often employ exposure to feared sensations or situations, combined with prevention of maladaptive responses that provide short-term relief The mechanism by which CBT is effective remains poorly understood However, in this case, the intervention is intended to promote habituation and a reduction in anxiety symptoms Indeed, two studies we reviewed 82 , 83 aimed to reduce anxiety sensitivity through aerobic exercise, which can create sensations similar to anxiety or panic e.
Interestingly, one study that did not meet our inclusion criteria 62 involved individuals participating in CR who had elevated anxiety specific to walking. Anxiety improved among individuals who were assigned to walk for exercise but not in those assigned to cycling, suggesting that exposure to a specific feared stimulus may have helped.
Alternatively, exercise may improve self-efficacy through progressive positive feedback, such as fitness gains Existing evidence from RCTs does not adequately address whether exercise can reduce anxiety via improvements in fitness and related physiological changes, psychological changes, or a combination of factors; indeed, the relative paucity of evidence leaves open the question of whether a direct mechanism for exercise to reduce anxiety exists.
For example, two of the identified RCTs address high anxiety sensitivity, a marker that may serve as a precursor to panic attacks or GAD. In addition, one RCT 80 was conducted among individuals with PTSD, a diagnosis which is now in a separate classification from anxiety disorders 1. We included these RCTs to address anxiety as broadly as possible, in light of the scarcity of the existing literature and the heterogeneity of populations sampled; we also did not identify any completed RCTs among individuals with DSMdiagnosed anxiety disorders.
Although a few RCTs included participants with one of several anxiety diagnoses, no single study addressed the issue of whether one anxiety disorder was more responsive to exercise than another, or whether situational anxiety symptoms responded as well to exercise as did persistent symptoms of anxiety. Testing for such moderator effects would be valuable but would require trials with larger samples than have been used to date.
The present review has several limitations. Second, we limited our search to individuals of ages 18 years and over. Although we elected not include children in our review, we performed an additional search of our database for studies of exercise in anxious children. We failed to identify a single RCT of exercise training in persons under 18 years old that met our inclusion criteria. Therefore, we cannot comment on the potential benefits of exercise for children with elevated anxiety and suggest that this is an important, and understudied, area for future research.
In summary, findings from the present review suggest that exercise could be a useful, affordable, accessible treatment for anxiety. However, there appears to be a paucity of data from well-designed RCTs, and the methodological limitations in the existing trials of exercise preclude drawing definitive conclusions about its effectiveness.
Indeed, the existing literature is marked by small trials with weak internal validity. At present, the existing body of evidence is not of sufficient scientific rigor to recommend it as a treatment among individuals with clinically elevated anxiety.
Authors Stonerock, Hoffman, Smith, and Blumenthal declare that they have no conflicts of interest. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Author manuscript; available in PMC Aug 1. Stonerock , PhD, Benson M. Hoffman , PhD, Patrick J. Smith , PhD, and James A. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. The publisher's final edited version of this article is available at Ann Behav Med.
See other articles in PMC that cite the published article. Abstract Background Exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety, but few studies have studied exercise in individuals pre-selected because of their high anxiety.
Purpose To review and critically evaluate studies of exercise training in adults with either high levels of anxiety or an anxiety disorder. Methods We conducted a systematic review of randomized clinical trials RCTs in which anxious adults were randomized to an exercise or non-exercise control condition.
Results Evidence from 12 RCTs suggested benefits of exercise, for select groups, similar to established treatments and greater than placebo. Conclusions Exercise may be a useful treatment for anxiety, but lack of data from rigorous, methodologically sound RCTs precludes any definitive conclusions about its effectiveness. Exercise, Physical activity, Anxiety, Anxiety disorders, Systematic review. METHOD We conducted a systematic search July for randomized clinical trials RCTs in which participants were pre-selected on the basis of either a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder or elevated symptoms of anxiety and then randomized to treatment with exercise as one of the treatment arms of the trial.
Review of Meta-Analyses In addition to our review of individual RCTs, we also surveyed the existing meta-analyses on exercise and anxiety.
Open in a separate window. Table 1 Summary of Randomized Clinical Trials. Placebo Carmeli et al. Leisure program focused on stability, flexibility, balance 2. Vocational activities Goldin et al. Exercise better than waitlist. Clomipramine better than EX, both better than placebo. No change in control group. RET better than waitlist. Exercise conditions better than waitlist when grouped, but pairwise NS. No Group x Time effect. CBT showed more anxiety reduction than exercise.
MBX better than aerobic exercise group reduced by mean of - No significant group differences in anxiety; change scores were Exercise better than UC at 8 weeks but NS at 4, 8, and 12 months. Both exercise groups better than waitlist. No effect for restructuring. Study Quality We compiled information concerning study design to determine relative strength and quality of the RCTs.
Anxiety Measures Measures used to assess anxiety outcomes were highly variable. Results of the Exercise Interventions Regarding the effectiveness of exercise interventions, 4 of the 12 studies reported that the group receiving an exercise intervention showed superior anxiety outcomes compared to those of the control group, such as reduction in anxiety symptoms 80 , 81 or reduction in anxiety sensitivity 82 , Review of Meta-Analyses From the records identified as reviews or meta-analyses, we identified 5 published meta-analyses of studies of exercise interventions on anxiety 47 , 48 , 49 , , Table 2.
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Mindfulness for Anxiety: Research and Practice
Anxiety Buster # Reduce Caffeine, Sugar and Processed Foods From Your Diet trigger panic or anxiety attacks, especially if you have an anxiety disorder. WebMD explains how to treat symptoms of anxiety and depression when both strike at once. conditions. Learn how to get help for both anxiety and depression. Learning how to deal with and reduce anxiety may feel overwhelming.