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pleiades's avatar

What is the correlation between anxiety and not exercising?

Asked by pleiades (6581points) March 7th, 2013

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13 Answers

Lightlyseared's avatar

Exercise seems to be beneficial at relieving the symptoms of anxiety (and stress and depression).

marinelife's avatar

What correlation? Do you mean anxiety is keeping you from exercising or what are the benefits as @Lightlyseared addressed?

josie's avatar

People who do not exercise enough should not be surprised if they feel anxiety.
People who feel anxiety are not exercising enough.

marinelife's avatar

@josie That is simplistic. Exercise can help relieve anxiety, but it does not eliminate it for those with chronic anxiety.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

If you have a large investment in an exercise program either emotionally or financially (such as an expensive gym membership or major purchase in equipment, failing to follow-up and take advantage of the opportunity to exercise could make you anxious, especially if someone important in your life is aware of the situation. Either you have to do what you have planned, or you have to acknowledge that you will not follow through. Either way, this should revolve the cause of the anxiety.

On the other hand, if you suffer from frequent or constant anxiety, exercise can really help reduce this problem. If you know this and you feel more anxious because you are not making use of this solution, then either do it, or admit you will not take responsibility to help yourself. That won’t eliminate your anxiety entirely, but you won’t be allowing your inaction from making you feel worse.

Taking responsibility for yourself is important to getting control of your anxiety.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, exercise releases endorphins for an extra boost of feel good brain chemicals, but, it is not a magic cure all for extreme stress related anxiety or anxiety due to severe psychological issues.
I’d say exercise is most beneficial for situational depression,but again, it is not a magic cure for serious depressive conditions that require medication and therapy.

josie's avatar


That’s me alright.
Then again how would I know. Anxiety is an attitude killer, so I don’t do anxiety.

nikipedia's avatar

The correlation between anxiety and not exercising is positive. That is, the less you exercise, the more likely you are to feel anxiety. Another way of looking at that is the more you exercise, the less anxiety you tend to feel.

Meta-analyses of scientific research have found this repeatedly:

“Overall the research evidence support the notion that exercise has psychological
benefits for participants. The majority (90%) of studies support both the anti-
depressive properties of exercise and the effect of exercise in combatting anxiety. In
addition, the studies reviewed generally substantiate the claim that improved mood
is associated with exercise.” Source

The anxiety-reducing effects of exercise appear to depend on the type of exercise you do—it must be aerobic—how much you do it, and how often.

“The results substantiate the claim that exercise is associated with reductions in anxiety, but only for aerobic forms of exercise. These effects were generally independent of both subject (i.e. age and health status) and descriptive characteristics…For state anxiety, exercise was associated with reduced anxiety, but had effects similar to other known anxiety-reducing treatments (e.g. relaxation)...Training programmes also need to exceed 10 weeks before significant changes in trait anxiety occur. ”

“The only variable that was significant across all 3 meta-analyses was exercise duration. Exercise of at least 21 minutes seems necessary to achieve reductions in state and trait anxiety, but there were variables confounding this relationship. As such, it remains to be seen what the minimum duration is necessary for anxiety reduction.” Source (opens pdf).

The mechanism by which this occurs is unclear. It may be related to release of cortisol or other stress hormones from the hypothalamaic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, but findings are mixed.

KNOWITALL's avatar

My doctor and I are firm proponents of not taking pills if it’s something that can be naturally corrected. Thus during my high-stress periods, I exercise more and put more focus on eating healthier as well, this reduces physical & mental stress and keeps me from manifesting physical symptoms of stress like hives, headaches, etc… (It’s much better than xanax and there’s no kidney damage)

CWOTUS's avatar

I’m afraid… I don’t know.

rockfan's avatar

Not sure. But I’ve suffered social anxiety and depression all my life and I rarely excercised. Combined with terrible eating habbits. I started exercising and eating healthy everyday for an hour and it’s really helping me feel better about myself.

mattbrowne's avatar

A change of hormone, neuropeptide and neurotransmitter levels. Regular exercise can rectify some of the hormone, neuropeptide and neurotransmitter imbalances. Key substances are cortisol, endorphins, GABA, serotonin and noradrenaline. Not exercising makes the imbalances worse. High cortisol levels over long periods of time can seriously damage the brain. Exercising is a great way to reduce cortisol levels.

Idear's avatar

When you exercise, you tend to feel good about yourself. After you start seeing results, you feel even better. If you are not able to exercise right now, try listening to some relaxation music.

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