Study Shows That Exercise Can Reduce the Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder

A study at the University of Gothenburg has found that exercising is beneficial to mental health. The researchers found that partaking in moderate and strenuous workouts can reduce the symptoms of anxiety disorder.

The study was titled Effects of Exercise on Symptoms the Anxiety in Primary Care Patients: A randomized controlled trial. They published it in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

How researchers conducted the study 

The researchers gathered 286 people with anxiety disorder and asked them to work out regularly for 12 weeks. They split the group into three. They asked the first and second groups to participate in high and low-intensity workouts, respectively, while the last acted as the control group and did no exercise. The group that worked out were guided through an hour work out three times a week for the duration of the study.

The team designed the high-intensity exercises to reach 75% of the maximum heart rate, while the low-intensity workout was 60% of the maximum heart rate.

After the twelve weeks, the team concluded that the volunteers who had done low-intensity workouts were 3.62 times more likely to have fewer anxiety symptoms than participants in the control group. Those in the high-intensity workout group, on the other hand, were 4.88 times more likely to have reduced anxiety symptoms than the control group.

The team pointed out that their results were not directly proportional to the anxiety reduction. However, it still affected them positively.

According to Malin Henriksson, a study author, a more intense workout led to more symptoms lowering, indicating that an intense workout was better than low-intensity workouts when alleviating anxiety.

Theories researchers used to explain their results 

While the researchers did not know why exercise alleviated anxiety disorder symptoms, they developed some theories. They proposed that working out had a social aspect. They noted that most of the participants were not very social before they began the study. The study might have helped them connect with other volunteers, thus becoming therapeutic.

Another theory they proposed was that exercise triggered the secretion of insulin growth factor 1. This hormone plays a role in neuroplasticity which decreases anxiety.

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