If you’re feeling anxious, you may want to hit the gym or head out for a run but those aren’t the only exercise options for helping you ward off stress. Fortunately, several types of exercise can help combat anxiety. Exercise is a stress reliever and a way to reduce tension and regain calm when your mind is being pulled in too many directions.
The Link Between Anxiety and Exercise
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress, but it’s not always easy to manage or live with. The link between physical activity and mental health is well established. Exercise can help manage anxiety, depression, stress, sleep problems, and weight issues. Studies show it can improve memory and thinking skills in people with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.
High-Intensity Exercise Has an Edge
High-intensity exercise may have an edge for treating anxiety. A study found that both high- and low-intensity exercise helped alleviate anxiety symptoms in subjects, but researchers found a greater tendency toward improvement with higher-intensity sweat sessions. It may be that higher intensity exercise stimulates a greater release of endorphins and shifts brain chemistry more dramatically than lower intensity workouts. If you’re working out at a high intensity, you can get benefits in a shorter time, too. Research shows as little as 10 minutes of intense exercise is enough to offer mental and physical health benefits.
Yoga Has a Calming Effect
On days when a high-intensity workout feels overwhelming, yoga can help you reclaim your calm. It’s also an effective way to improve both your physical and mental health. Yoga poses are designed to stretch and strengthen the body, while simultaneously calming the mind.
Stretching does more than boost flexibility and relieve tight muscles. A randomized-controlled trial found that 10 minutes of stretching reduced anxiety and boosted mental health and vitality in workers. So, if you’re worried or anxious, take a break from what you’re doing and do whole-body stretches. You should feel the mental health benefits of stretching quickly.
Although high-intensity exercise may have an edge for easing anxiety, it doesn’t mean low-intensity exercise isn’t beneficial. The key is to do it outdoors in nature. Exercise is a scientifically proven way to clear your mind and relax. The fresh air and sunshine will lift your mood and spirits. So, it’s easy to see why so many people head outdoors for their workout.