Actress Selena Gomez, singer-songwriter Zayn Malik, and actress Emma Stone have spoken frankly about their battles with anxiety. They're part of the 40 million Americans who contend with anxiety disorders — and the millions of others who have intermittent anxiety. A 2021 poll found that 41% of Americans felt more anxious this year than last.
The standard treatments offered for everything from phobias to panic attacks are psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, aversion therapy, and medications, which may have unwanted side effects such as drowsiness and addiction.
There is, however, one effective treatment, even for chronic anxiety, that has no downside. Exercise.
A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders tracked 286 people with anxiety disorders and found that three 60-minute training sessions weekly — combining strength training and aerobics — dispelled anxiety. The participants raised their heart rate to 60% or 75% of their maximum (roughly 220 minus your calendar age) and did 45 minutes of circuit training before ending with a cool down and stretching.
Those who hit 60% of maximum heart rate were almost four times more likely to get relief from their anxiety as those who did not exercise. And if they hit the 75% mark, they were almost five times more likely to see their symptoms fade away.
So head to the gym for a full-body workout with machines such as ellipticals and with stretchy bands, and/or hop on your stationary bicycle or fast walk/jog around the block.
Improved mental and physical health is just around the corner.