From improving heart health to losing weight, the physical benefits of exercise can be quite evident. Perhaps less well known, however, is how practicing regular exercise is proven to help with mental health as well, and specifically with anxiety. 

Scientists believe there are numerous reason for this. A study by Princeton University found that physical activity helps create new brain cells, while other studies suggest that exercising stimulates areas in the brain that are responsible for the production of chemicals linked to feelings of happiness and satisfaction.

While there are many different ways to get your body moving, here are our top five recommendations specifically for combatting anxiety.

Exercises to Combat Anxiety

5 Exercises to Combat Anxiety

A vigorous five-mile walk will do more for an unhappy but otherwise healthy individual than all the medicine and psychology in the world.

– Paul D. White, physician

1. Running

Many people turn to running or jogging to help alleviate anxiety. Incorporating this highly beneficial cardiovascular activity into your exercise routine can bring both short-term and long-term benefits. Running releases endorphins, or feel-good chemicals, that improve your mood and give you a happy feeling. Studies have shown that regular running also has helped to alleviate symptoms of depression. Hitting the pavement or treadmill regularly can help to improve your overall mindset as well as improve your physical health.

2. Yoga

The many benefits of practicing yoga have been well-documented, as the ancient practice is known to help not just with physical ailments but with mental ailments as well. Yoga is a great form of exercise for releasing anxiety, because it incorporates mindful meditation and breathing techniques that are used to help calm the mind and improve brain health. Yoga is not only a great full-body workout, but several studies have show that its many mental benefits have been specifically shown to help reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety.

3. Dancing

Dancing is almost always guaranteed to put you in a better mood. Whether you are dancing in your room by yourself or with friends at a club, dancing can help you release anxiety if you are looking for an alternative form of exercise. One study even found that dancing can help alleviate anxiety much more than more than traditional forms of exercise.

4. Hiking

Getting outside and spending time in nature is a great way to escape your everyday stresses and anxieties. Spending even just a few hours in nature and away from modern technology can help improve your mood. Hiking is a great way to incorporate both exercise and time in nature. A new trend in exercising called “forest-bathing,” which originated as a practice in Japan, has shown to produce vast improvements in one’s mood. Forest-bathing involves taking a mindful walk through the woods or any other natural environment, and just soaking up your surroundings. 

5. Strength training

Strength training might not be immediately thought of as a “feel good” activity, but studies have shown that this practice can also help with releasing anxiety and stress. This could be because strength training often incorporates practices similar to meditation and yoga, such as focusing on your body and breath.

Whatever you do, keep moving!

Many people suffer from symptoms of anxiety, but few people take steps to help release or alleviate the feelings. Incorporating exercise into your daily routine is a great way to help improve your mental health while also improving your physical health.

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