Physical activity does more than just improve physical health. According to a recent study by researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, regular exercise may also help calm an anxious mind. They assigned 286 people with diagnosed anxiety to either moderate or strenuous hourlong group exercise sessions, which took place three times a week for 12 weeks. Both groups performed warmups, followed by circuit training around 12 stations, and a cooldown with stretching. However, the strenuous sessions were more intense.
After 12 weeks, most of the participants experienced a drop in their level of anxiety from moderate-to-high to low. For people in the lower-intensity exercise group, the chance of a decrease in anxiety symptoms improved by a factor of 3.62, and was greater by a factor of 4.88 in those who exercised more strenuously. The study — the largest of its kind on anxiety and exercise — was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
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