How Exercise Can Reduce Stress & Anxiety

By , SparkPeople Blogger

When I find my mood is going downhill, I usually take an exercise break to try and lift it back up. The mood boost that we get is just one of the many benefits we experience from exercising. Not only do I know that I burned some calories, improved my overall health, but I feel a lot better in general and come back with a much more positive outlook on things for quite some time afterward.

In a recent study, it was found that the mood boosting effect that we experience may help with coping and reducing anxiety and stress for an extended period of time after exercise. In this study, people either exercised or quietly rested and then were shown emotionally stimulating photos. While the group of people that simply rested quietly did experience reduced anxiety levels, their anxiety levels increased after seeing the emotionally stimulating photos and the group of people that exercised and viewed the photos continued to maintain reduced anxiety levels. This is quite an interesting study, especially for those that tend to have high anxiety levels and/or are highly stressed may be able to combat some of their symptoms by exercising. Perhaps these findings may help those that are dealing with depression too.

Of course this is just one study, but it may lead us into a direction for more studies to be done to help many people cope better with their daily anxieties and stressors with something as simple as exercise. For some people that take medication for their anxiety, stress, depression, etc., they may find a lot more benefits with exercise than they realize (and it costs less too). That's a win-win situation, if you ask me!


Related Links:

Bust Your Bad Mood with Exercise

Using Exercise to Relieve Depression

A Guide to Walking Meditation

Recognizing the Signs of Depression


Do you think exercise helps with anxiety and stress? What benefits have you experienced from exercising?

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JIACOLO 6/12/2020
I know exercise can make a big difference in how I feel. Report
ATHENA2010 5/26/2020
I used to be able to just take off out of the house and walk until I felt better (less angry, sad, etc.) then I would turn around and head him. I miss being able to walk like that and hope to get back to that one day. Now I exercise from a chair or bed..anything to keep myself in motion! Report
This article is brilliant and dead on! Report
USMAWIFE 4/19/2020
thank you Report
11JAYMIE11 1/22/2020
Exercise helps me physically, emotionally, and mentally... more so than any pill prescribed for my various disorders! Report
CD24912514 12/22/2019
thanks Report
BONNIE1552 12/2/2019
I found that exercise did help my general anxiety. Report
NASFKAB 11/25/2019
Good. Report
CHERYLHURT 11/1/2019
Great Report
ATHOMPSON606 10/19/2019
If you have an anxiety disorder or suffer from major depression, I'm sorry.. this is crap. I have both and used to go to the gym for over an hour a day. Didn't help. You cannot exercise away a chemical imbalance. Tired of these articles Report
DMEYER4 10/10/2019
thank you Report
Thank you. Report
KHALIA2 9/18/2019
Exercise helps me to deal with stress! Report
CECELW 8/31/2019
for sure exercise is a great way to burn off anger, frustration, etc. Report
CHERRYZMB60 8/31/2019
Good advice thanks Report
KHALIA2 8/10/2019
Thanks! Report
Thank you Report
Exercise helps for about 20 minutes. Report
Great article! Report
It's so much more than losing weight, this is a life style change,. SparkFriends. Report
I used to joke that I couldn't even talk to my daughter's nurses in the morning until after I ran... although I was joking, I do feel better able to deal with people if I run in the morning! Report
Exercise at times cam leabe me extra stressed out. Just depends on the stressor. Report
As someone with a variety pack of anxiety disorders I find exercise to be invaluable in helping to alleviate the worst discomfort. It is not a cure allbut Report
I work out my problems while I exercise Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
I am very good about exerciting but i still have problems with anxiety sometimes Report
Exercise is definitely a form of stress release for me. If I am well rested before I head to the gym, then the endorphins last for hours. If I am sleep deprived, it helps momentarily. There is something to the theory that you must have adequate rest. Report
Exercise never fails to be a stress reliever for me. Report
I used to be an angry person, and I found exercising helped me to NOT be. I wear off that negative emotion "TO DO SOMETHING NOW!" and get it ALL out then I am my normal sweet self. Report
Yes, less stress! Report
sometimes exercise puts my body in stress mode. Report
As far as stress goes - I have created a stress free life. Not bad, if you can do it. But... exercise has never lifted my mood as well as a bag of M&Ms could (or a nice snifter of brandy). Sorry, but such is life ha ha. Exercise is a necessary evil, so I do it. :) Report
I do take medication but it does help a lot to do exercise and hopefully one day it can be reduced and I can be off it. Report
My exercise was helping greatly with my mood, but it seems to have stopped working. Or maybe, I just cycling down. I don't know but it's back to the shrink. Report
Absolutely. I'm far less stressed when exercising regularly. Report
It is uncommon to discover some guy currently outside a muscle newspaper who have a terrific looking group of abdominal. It seems like as if this is just about the trickiest parts of the body to formulate, yet that is certainly one of the most gratifying with regards to words of flattery. Any time women view a person who have hard six pack, they will undoubtedly take serious notice. Identical can even be explained whenever a person recognizes a lady within a sting bikini by using it defined midriff. The real problem is usually that will exercises perhaps can be tough and they also can stress as well as strain selected parts of your system. Report
Just walking every day helps relieve my tension and anxiety. Report
I know that when I don't exercise, my stress levels go up. Not because I was obsessing about one situation, but because my body has not opportunity to shed the daily build-up of stress hormones. I also know that if I exercise before my day begins, I am less likely to drag yesterday's stressors into today. And, if I can park for away and take a five minute walk to my car each time I leave my office for a site visit, and when I return, I am more prepared & focused for each task. Report
Definitely even if for no other reason that it forces one to NOT think about that which is tormenting them. Report
The model in the photo is WAY too happy. Or else she's been exercising so long her brain is maxed out on endorphins. Report
There are a few times exercise hasn't lifted my mood right away (if I keep on thinking about the stressful situation, for instance--dumb!) BUT I have never come off an exercise time in a WORSE mood than I started, AND I've accomplished the exercise. So the gain is there, regardless. Report
Exercising gives me some time alone to think and to pray, to take control of some aspects of my life, including my physical health and strength. It does improve my mood and help me cope with later stresses, too. Report
Towards the end of a month-long vacation in New Zealand, I got really homesick. I felt so depressed. So I told my husband to get his sneakers on and we went on a long hilly walk. My depression quickly lifted and my homesickness went away. I've always known that exercise is the best way to cure the blues and to lessen stress. It really works! Report
It definitely works for me! I, too, take exercise breaks. I have a lot of anxiety, stress, and also depression. Exercise is my best tool, and there is a noted difference when events get between me and my breaks. Report
Running is my stress reliever! Report
My alarm woke me up @ 3:30 this morning (like always) & I felt SO sleepy, but I had already left my clothes out for workout and there was no argument!! Grabbed my coffee, got awake and headed for the gym! I love exercise and feel cheated if I do not get my time in ............. Report
Exercise always helps my mood, walking especially. Report
I agree with everyone else - exercise is great for mood. I have rough bouts with mood swings before my period and a side effect of watching my diet and increasing my exercise to lose weight has been a reduction in the swing of these mood swings. I can go to the gym, angry at the world, annoyed with my spouse and come out gentle, kind and loving. My kids even joke when I snap at them "must be time for mom to go workout". I had one session with my trainer where she looked at my husband after I was sweaty, exhausted and grinning happily that she saved his life ('cause I was snapping about him when I got there).

I love working out for the lift of my spirits as much as I do the transformation of my health and my body. Report
Exercise has definitely helped both my depression and anxiety. Since adopting a healthy lifestyle I have gone from taking a lot of medications to taking one. Report