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Regular Exercise Reduces Anxiety

The anxiety that often accompanies a chronic illness can significantly interfere with the healing process and adherence to the treatment plan. But regular exercise can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety, a new University of Georgia study shows.

Research found that exercise sessions greater than 30 minutes were better at reducing anxiety than sessions of less than 30 minute. But surprisingly, programs with a duration of between three and twelve weeks appear to be more effective at reducing anxiety than those lasting more than 12 weeks. The researchers noted that study participants were less likely to stick with the longer exercise programs, which suggests that better participation rates result in greater reductions in anxiety.

“Our findings add to the growing body of evidence that physical activities such as walking or weight lifting may turn out to be the best medicine that physicians can prescribe to help their patients feel less anxious,” said lead author Matthew Herring, a doctoral student in the Department of Kinesiology, at the UGA College of Education.

As reported in Science Daily, “The patients in the studies suffered from a variety of conditions, including heart disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer and chronic pain from arthritis. In 90 percent of the studies examined, the patients randomly assigned to exercise had fewer anxiety symptoms, such as feelings of worry, apprehension, and nervousness, than the control group.

“We found that exercise seems to work with just about everybody under most situations,” said study co-author Pat O’Connor, professor and co-director of the UGA Exercise Psychology Laboratory. “Exercise even helps people who are not very anxious to begin with become more calm.”

You can see the tremendous value of exercise goes well beyond body image and weight management.  By reducing anxiety and depression, exercise goes a long way toward healing the body.  Healing starts with the mind and exercise enables the mind to perform its magic for the body!

Dr. Jack Singer is a Certified Sport Psychologist and Professional Speaker, based in Southern California.  He consults with athletes and teams all over the U.S. and Canada.  You can speak with Dr. Jack  by calling him at 1-800-497-9880 or email him at:

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