Can Exercise Help Calm Anxiety?

By Morgan Hill

It’s easy to sit inside on your couch all day when you are feeling stressed or anxious, but getting your heart pumping can have a positive effect on your mental health. Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting nearly 40 million adults age 18 and over, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Exercising, however, can help reduce anxiety by increasing serotonin levels in your brain. Whether you like to work out with a group or by yourself, there’s an exercise to help you combat your anxiety.

If you like individual exercises, going for a walk or run could be your solution to get you on your feet. Taking a walk around your neighborhood can be just as effective. Grab your headphones before you walk out the door and listen to some upbeat pop music to add that extra spring in your step. You’ll be feeling better and running the fastest mile in the neighborhood before you know it.

For an individualized experience in a group setting, try taking a local yoga class. Concentrating on your breathing increases body awareness which can calm and center the nervous system, according to Psychology Today. Starting with one class a week can reduce your stress and increase your flexibility!

Nature is all around us, but going on a hike is more relaxing than looking at the trees in your backyard for the hundredth time. Leave your phone in the car and go for a nature walk through your nearest nature preserve. To make it a group activity, grab a few friends and make it a day trip to a state park. Nature trails are easy to find and a simple way to clear your mind and reduce your anxiety.

Creating goals of exercising once a day for short periods of time is easier to tackle than long workouts only a few days a week. By creating an exercise routine, you can also keep yourself accountable. So, the next time you’re feeling anxious, get your body moving!