Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
Do you battle with anxiety? I know I do. At one point, my anxiety felt like a ball and chain that was holding me down regularly. I was desperate to let go of it. I went to see a neurologist. He went over different options that would treat my anxiety. He told me about medications vs. lifestyle changes. When he mentioned simply exercising was a huge reducer of anxiety, I sat up straighter with a listening ear. Exercising?! I figured I might as well give it a shot – I had nothing to lose!
I have made exercise, specifically weightlifting, a huge part of my life since that visit. I want to be clear; I knew nothing about lifting weights before I began. I mean NOTHING. One of my best friends took the time to go to the gym with me and show me what to do. Now it is my favorite! If you don’t know where to start, scroll through Instagram or YouTube to find helpful videos and workouts or ask a friend who is into exercising. That’s what I do when I need something new or want to change up my routine. Not into weights? Find another activity you enjoy. Try out Zumba, Spin, biking or running with your dog at the dog park. There are too many options for you to not find something you enjoy.
Exercising regularly has literally changed my life. My anxious feelings are at a minimum. They do not consume my mind or determine my day. I have reached this point by simply exercising daily and reducing my caffeine intake (caffeine is like adding fuel to your anxiety fire – big no, no). If only I had known such a small change would put an end to my overwhelming anxiety sooner. I tell anyone I can how exercising changed my life. Of course, needless to mention the countless other benefits to exercising and bonus: your physical appearance gets an upgrade, too. 😊
Not fully buying it? Look what Harvard Health has to say about exercise reducing anxiety:
*Getting your heart rate up changes brain chemistry, increasing the availability of important anti-anxiety neurochemicals, including serotonin, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and endocannabinoids.
*Exercise activates frontal regions of the brain responsible for executive function, which helps control the amygdala, our reacting system to real or imagined threats to our survival.
*Exercising regularly builds up resources that bolster resilience against stormy emotions.
*Engaging in exercise diverts you from the very thing you are anxious about.
*Moving your body decreases muscles tension, lowering the body’s contribution to feeling anxious.
How cool is that?! Besides, if you battle anxiety like I did, you’re likely desperate to try something. Give it a shot. I would just about guarantee you will see changes in your anxiety in a matter of completing an exercise. The more you do it – the better you feel. Once you make the change, you don’t want to go back! Trust me 😊
If you need some tips on where to begin – message me and I will find some solid videos to send you / people to follow on social media.
Get out there and get moving!