By Joe Morgan via SWNS
Exercising as hard as you can is the best way to alleviate symptoms of chronic anxiety without drugs or therapy, according to a new study.
Circuit training, mixing both strength and cardio exercises, ease feelings of anxiety by decreasing muscle tension and boosting endorphins, say scientists.
Every participant in the study showed improvement regardless of intensity.
But the chance of improvement in terms of anxiety symptoms increased more in the people who worked out harder.
Most participants in the treatment groups went from a baseline level of moderate to high anxiety to a low anxiety level after the 12-week circuit training.
Researchers studied 286 people, average age 39 years old, with chronic anxiety and compared their results with a group who received advice on physical activity according to public health recommendations.
For those who exercised at relatively low intensity, the chance of improvement in terms of anxiety symptoms rose by a factor of 3.62.
The corresponding factor for those who exercised at higher intensity was 4.88.
Both treatment groups had 60-minute training sessions three times a week, under a physical therapist’s guidance.
The sessions included both cardio and strength training. A warmup was followed by circle training around 12 stations for 45 minutes, and sessions ended with a cool down and stretching.
Members of the group that exercised at a moderate level were intended to reach some 60 percent of their maximum heart rate — a degree of exertion rated as light or moderate.
In the group that trained more intensively, the aim was to attain 75 percent of maximum heart rate, and this degree of exertion was perceived as high.
Malin Henriksson, a doctoral student at the University of Gothenberg in Sweden, said: "There was a significant intensity trend for improvement — that is, the more intensely they exercised, the more their anxiety symptoms improved."
Professor Maria Åberg added: “Doctors in primary care need treatments that are individualized, have few side effects, and are easy to prescribe.
"The model involving 12 weeks of physical training, regardless of intensity, represents an effective treatment that should be made available in primary health care more often for people with anxiety issues."
The findings were published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
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