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Anxiety: According to science, sport helps fight it

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According to Swedish research, sports and exercise can help us beat anxiety. Here’s how much you need and for how long

There is a remedy for anxiety that does not involve the use of drugs nor the use of psychological therapy, but which seems to give equally good results. Which? The answer is… Sport. To say it is a group of scientists from the University of Goteborg (Sweden) according to which both moderate and intense exercise relieve symptoms of anxiety. But… What (and how much) exercise?

Sports, anxiety and mood disorders –

Premise. It is not the first time that science has investigated the link between sport and mental well-being. Already in the past, several studies have shown that exercise is useful in fighting depression. But to date it was not clear whether and how anxious people could also benefit from it. For this reason, the Swedish study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, and based on 286 patients with anxiety syndrome, could open interesting perspectives in the treatment of one of the most common mental disorders (it is estimated that in Italy alone anxiety affects 3 million of people, ed).

Sports versus anxiety: the study –

The study participants were divided into 2 groups and both followed training sessions 3 times a week, under the guidance of an expert. The sessions were based on a 45-minute circuit, which included both cardio (aerobic) and strength training, with final relaxation and stretching. The group exercising at a moderate level had to achieve approximately 60% of maximum heart rate, while the group exercising more intensely at least 75% of maximum heart rate, with a degree of exertion perceived as “high” on the Borg scale ( a scale for assessing perceived physical exertion).

Exercise panacea for the anxious –

The results? More than encouraging: at the end of the training period the anxiety symptoms of both groups improved significantly, even in chronic conditions, compared to the control group who had not been given any training program. But with one difference: those who exercised more intensely saw their anxiety symptoms improve a little more than those who exercised moderately.

12 weeks of training to cure anxiety –

Currently the most popular treatments for anxiety are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotropic drugs. However, the latter can have side effects and patients with anxiety disorders do not always respond to medical treatment. According to the Swedish researchers, these traditional therapies could be associated with a regimen of physical exercise: “Doctors need personalized anxiety treatments, with few side effects and easy to prescribe. Our model that predicts 12 weeks of training, regardless of intensity, it represents an effective treatment that should be made available more often for people with anxiety problems, ”says Maria Aberg, professor at the University of Gothenburg and curator of the study.

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