Recently researchers from the University of Georgia showed that regular walking, weightlifting or any kind of work out could cut anxiety by up to 20 per cent in people who were experiencing a chronic condition such as heart disease or arthritis.
These figures were found after looking into previous studies that asked participants to exercise to see if it reduced worrying, apprehension and nervousness. 40 clinical trials including over 3,000 patients were analysed and results show that the exercise worked in reducing the above symptoms in 90 per cent of studies.
Any type of physical activity seems to reduce anxiety in some way, but it is the aerobic type such as swimming, cycling and running that have been found to be the best for stress reduction.
In particular, running has been found to have a particularly high stress busting factor, which could be due to the “runner high”, a euphoric state experienced by many who do aerobic activity. Dr Dominic Micklewright, a sports psychologist at the University of Essex explains that this high is caused partly by changes to the brains biochemistry, “particularly increased secretion of beta-endorphins by the pituitary gland, which have a very similar effect to opiate drugs”, and partly by the fact that “it simply makes you feel better that you have done something positive to improve your health”.