The benefits of exercise have been long established. We know that sitting for extended periods of time is bad for many areas of our health. It reduces blood circulation, weakens your muscles, and increase the risk for diseases like obesity, heart disease and cancer. Inactivity is also detrimental to our mental health. Daily exercise is one of the most powerful ways to reduce your anxiety, panic attacks, stress, and depression. Research has shown the incredibly strong relationship between anxiety and inactivity.
The Relationship Between Lack Of Exercise And Anxiety
Here are two reasons why a lack of exercise and movement can contribute to anxiety and panic attacks.
1. Unused Energy: Unused energy is one of the most frequently cited reasons for anxiety. This is because your body was made to move, and when the body doesn’t move, tension develops in the body. We see this in dogs when they’re not taken out for regular walks. They become anxious and high strung. If they don’t have an outlet for their energy, that energy first turns into physical tension followed by mental tension.
2. Increased Stress Hormone: When you feel stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol. Movement can lower cortisol, bringing it back to healthy levels. When you start to experience anxiety, your body is anticipating a fight or flight reaction. Being inactive can cause your body to misfire stress and anxiety hormones.
As you can see, moving your body is crucial to calming the mind and body. We’re hard-wired to move, especially when we’re feeling stressed. For instance, if you have an encounter with a bear, your primitive brain goes into fight or flight response, giving you a boost of adrenaline needed to escape danger. In our modern world, we’ve become disconnected to one of the most important ways to reduce stress and anxiety.
Exercising When You’re Feeling Anxious
It can be difficult to exercise if you’re not used to it or if you’re experiencing anxiety. Anxiety can keep you in a stuck or frozen state, making it difficult to move forward. Exercise can also be difficult for those who experience social anxiety as it can be uncomfortable to exercise around other individuals.
Tips To Help You Start Exercising
Here are 6 tips to help you get started:
1. Start slow if you haven’t exercised before: Start off by making small and realistic goals. For instance, you can start by going for daily walks at lunch. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew and get discouraged.
2. Chose an activity that’s fun. The most important thing is that you move. Chances are that if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you won’t stick with it. If you like to dance, then sign up for a dance class. If you like to be outside in nature, go for a walk or run outside.
3. Choose to workout at a time of day that works best for you. Some prefer to work out in the morning when their energy levels are at the highest, while others are active in the afternoon or evening because that’s what their schedule allows them to get moving.
4. Mix up your exercises. Studies suggest that cardiovascular activities and strength training work well together. Start with at least one day of each activity a week.
5. Listen to music. Music helps increase your efforts by helping you stay at a healthy pace. Music also puts you in the zone, and it makes you want to move.
6. Get outside. Nature helps reduce anxiety, so by exercising outside, the stress reduction is even greater.
As you can see, movement and exercise powerful are ways to tackle the symptoms of anxiety. Get moving today to help you to start feeling your best.