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Understanding Exercise and Anxiety

By Randi Morse

Anxiety is a condition that affects people from every walk of life. Chances are very high that you, or someone you know, experiences anxiety on a regular basis. In fact, 1 in 5 American adults have reported experiencing chronic anxiety disorder within the last year. While it is frustrating to deal with, anxiety can also cause health issues. A person with high anxiety is more likely to experience other psychological issues, such as depression, and chronic high anxiety has also been linked to cardiovascular problems and diabetes. There are medications available to help combat anxiety, but there are many who aren't comfortable taking them. The good news is that exercise may be just what you need to help fight back against your anxiety.

Exercise and Anxiety

Time and time again exercise has been proven to be important for our well-being, and the same may be true when it comes to anxiety. A person who is exercising will have their attention diverted away from the thing that they're worried about. Stopping your brain from thinking about the anxiety-provoking situation (or person) prevents the brain from cycling through all of your concerns. Exercising also helps to decrease muscle tension. This relaxes your muscles and helps you to feel much less anxious than you were before the exercise. 

Prefrontal Cortex

It also is important for activating the prefrontal cortex. This part of your brain is responsible for how your body reacts to flight-or-fight situations. Someone who experiences no anxiety will have a brain that works correctly, tensing the muscles and getting ready to fight or flee before then relaxing, once the danger has passed. A person with anxiety experiences something else entirely. A person who is dealing with anxiety often has a body that doesn't come down from the fight-or-flight response. The relaxation part doesn't happen, keeping them feeling tense and concerned. Exercising helps to get the prefrontal cortex working accurately, allowing the body to calm down once the concern has passed. 

How much exercise do you need in order to help combat anxiety? Some research is showing that one round of exercise, done when you first start to experience anxiety, can be a huge help in lowering the amount of anxiety you feel. Regular exercise has also been found to be excellent at keeping anxiety at bay.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Jersey City, N.J.

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