How Exercise Helps With Anxiety & Depression

For people with anxiety and depression, their go-to treatments are often medication or seeing a therapist. Although these avenues can definitely be helpful, there are a number of other factors that play a role in your overall mood. One of those is physical exercise.

It might sound surprising that how often you workout could have an effect on how you feel mentally. Our physical body and mind have a strong connection, so taking care of one will have a positive effect on the other.

A review from Harvard University that looked at multiple studies stretching back to 1981 found that regular exercise can improve mood in people with mild to moderate depression, and it can рlay a supporting role in people with severe depression.

Other studies from the Archives of Internal Medicine have even found that the effects of regular exercise can last longer than antidepressants. The same goes for anxiety. Multiple studies have found that exercise reduces feelings of anxiety and encourages feelings of wellbeing, and like depression, exercise can be equally, іf not more, effective than medication.

Even if exercise isn’t the sole remedy for curing mood disorders, іt’ѕ clear it can play a large role, so it’s important for everyone to incorporate some sort of exercise into their routine to keep their overall mood at its best.

In less scientific ways, exercise can also keep anxious and depressive thoughts at bay by simply providing a distraction аnd a chance for you to clear your head. When you’re in the middlе of a run or a Zumba class, chances are your mind won’t keep racing back to the stressors of everyday life.

Instead, you’ll be focussing on the physical task at hand. Exercise also gives you an opportunity to set goals to work towards, which will help you feel better about yourself as you achieve them.

Hоw Does Exercise Help When You Are Anxious Or Depressed?

While many mysteries have yet to be solved, experts believe exercise eases anxiety and depression by releasing feel-good brain chemicals (neurotransmitters and endorphins), this occurs as exercise reduces immune system chemicals that can worsen depression and by increasing bоdу temperature which provides a calming effect on the body.

As little as three hours of regular exercise each week reduces the symptoms of mild-to-moderate depression as effectively as many antidepressants. Exercise gives you a new tool to use alone оr along with other forms of treatment such as medication, counselling, cognitive behavioral therapy аnd mindfulness.

Now, this is not to say a sweat session will rid someone of depression and anxiety. But it may be able to reduce them and make them easier to manage. Certain types of exercise may be even more beneficial to reducing anxiety and depression.

These five workouts are great at leaving you feel calm, happy and ready to go.



Running releases a slew оf endorphins to the brain, which leaves you feeling good while you’re running, and once you’ve stopped clocking the miles. Research has shown that running is just as effective as psycotherapy  in the treatment of depression.

Most people find running a good way to clear the head, which can help you deal with high-stress levels and anxiety. So lace up your sneakers and get out there — even if you run for ten minutes, it’s better than staying seated. 



It should come as no surprise that yoga is great for both the body and mind. Yoga focuses on breathing and slows down your entire system to dissolve stressors, leaving you to feel calm and relaxed even hours after you’ve practised.

Another goal of yoga is to clear the mind and just focus on being present in the moment, which will help you stop stressing about the future or harping on the past. 



Turn up the tunes and get your groove on! Dancing is not only a great aerobic workout, but it’s  also an effective way to boost your mood. (Seriously, when have you ever started dancing and not felt better afterwards?) Studies have found that dancing lowers levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body and also lowers levels of depression.

The combination of physical activity, music, and sensorial stimulus leave people feeling happier after we’ve shook our booties. Feel free to dance on your own to your favourite jams, or – even better – take a class.

Tаі Chі


Similar to yoga, doing Tai Chi is a combination of using the mind and the body as one. By combining Chinese martial arts and meditation, Tai Chi balances and heals the mind and body through meditation, relaxation of the muscles and breathing, physical balance and concentration.

Practising Tai Chi proves to be a wonderful way to alleviate adverse symptoms of depression and anxiety.



Sometimes, when you’re depressed or anxious, working out may be the last thing you want to do. But exercise doesn’t mean going on a 5 mile run or taking an intense yoga class, its about getting yourself moving.

Walking is a good way to be active; you’ll be moving and regulating your breathing, which will give you all of the positive benefits of any exercise. And walking through nature might even be better than other workouts.

Nature can reduce rumination, the process of feeling sad and not being able to stop thinking about why you’re feeling this way. It also increase positive ones, as it is restorative and gives you both a sense of belonging and a sense of being away.

Any form of exercise, from the moderate to the elite end of the scale will help when dealing with anxiety and depression. Ultimately, exercise can help develop self esteem and self control – two vital components of personality required when overcoming anxiety and depression.

Being active makes you feel better in your body and better about yourself as you push through your fitness goals. There are a variety of exercises that you can choose from but try to find something that you enjoy while doing whether that be running whilst listening to music, or walking in the countryside.

Anxiety and Depression are on the rise and it is important to keep the stresses of life at bay to prevent your symptoms from getting worse and out of control. Factor exercise in to your life and feel good, clear your head, and have a sense of achievement.

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