The holidays are here again—yet the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cast a shadow over usual traditions.
And rather than tidings of comfort and joy, some of us are just feeling anxious.
So—let’s talk about one of the simplest and most effective stress-relievers in my arsenal.
Because now more than ever, Americans are in desperate need of safe, non-addictive treatments, devoid of side effects…
Sweat the stress away
Swedish researchers recruited nearly 300 patients with anxiety syndrome for this latest study (one of the largest to date), which was recently published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. And its results deliver further proof that exercise really is the best medicine—at least where your mental health is concerned.
Half of the subjects had been living with chronic anxiety for at least a decade. The majority were women, and their average age was 39-years-old.
The scientists randomly assigned participants to moderate or strenuous exercise sessions, or to a control group who simply received standard exercise advice, for 12 weeks. Both groups attended hour-long training with a physical therapist three times weekly, featuring both cardio and strength training.
To help ensure participants reached a certain level of exertion, researchers monitored the participant’s heart rates with heart rate monitors. The moderate group had a target of performing up to 60 percent of their maximum heart rate. The strenuous group aimed for 75 percent.
In the end, subjects who engaged in moderate physical activity were three times as likely to report an improvement in anxiety symptoms. And the higher intensity group was nearly five times as likely to report improvements.
Make the time to move
Of course, I know as well as anyone how hard it can be to motivate yourself to fit in regular exercise when you’re stretched thin—and this time of year, especially, we’re all burning the candle at both ends.
Not only that, but the shorter, darker, colder days make it that much harder for people to pull themselves up off the couch and brave the frigid temps to break a sweat. Believe me, as a New Yorker, I get it.
But if you take one thing away from this research, it should be that skipping that workout comes with risks. Because in the end, moving your body—whether you’re hitting the gym or simply bundling up for a casual stroll around the block—is one of the single best strategies to help protect your mental health.
And the more you do, the greater the benefit.
So between your shopping and decorating this holiday season, make sure you carve out some time to get your heart rate up, too.
While you’re at it, I have a few other simple tips to keep those “winter blahs” at bay. You’ll find them in the December 2018 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“My 3-step, pill-free plan to banish the “winter blahs”—for good”). Subscribers have access to that issue and more in my archives. So if you haven’t yet, as always, consider becoming a subscriber today.
“Anxiety effectively treated with exercise.” Science Daily, 11/09/2021. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/11/211109095348.htm)