Physical activity helps to reduce anxiety better than medications

Experts from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, studied the impact of physical activity on people’s mental health.

In an experiment that lasted 12 weeks, scientists monitored the condition of 286 patients (mostly 39-year-old women) with anxiety syndrome. About half of the study participants had been living with anxiety for more than 10 years by that time.

By drawing lots, the participants were divided into two groups who played sports under the guidance of a physiotherapist three times a week for 60 minutes. The first group was engaged in a moderate regime, and the second – with heavier cardio and strength training. During all 12 weeks, the participants told the scientists about their condition and the severity of anxiety symptoms, including: nervousness, rapid breathing, palpitations and trembling.

The results of the experiment showed that in both groups the symptoms of anxiety decreased markedly.

Moreover, this also applied to those patients whose anxiety disorder had a chronic form. 

In the first group, which was engaged in moderate physical activity, the probability of improvement of symptoms increased by 3.62 times. And in the second group, which trained more intensively, these indicators were higher (4.88 times).

At the moment, the standard methods of treating anxiety are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotropic drugs. But such treatment is not available to many because of the high cost of psychotherapist’s techniques and side effects from medications. Scientists hope that their research will be able to help more people cope with anxiety syndrome and improve their mental health.

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Ekaterina Gura

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