Researchers at the University of Gothenburg have found new evidence that exercise can help reduce anxiety levels. During a twelve week program, participants with moderate to high levels of anxiety were placed in group exercise classes that were either strenuous or moderate. Moderate exercise includes the heart reaching 60% of its maximum heart rate, while strenuous exercise requires reaching 75% of its maximum heart rate. Each group did three 60-minute training sessions a week. The training sessions included cardio and strength exercises.
Results from the study showed that “anxiety symptoms were significantly alleviated even when the anxiety was a chronic condition, compared with a control group who received advice on physical activity according to public health recommendations.” The majority of participants went from a moderate or high level of anxiety to a low level of anxiety. The researchers also saw that the higher the intensity of exercise, the more their anxiety levels improved. With results like these and few side effects, primary care doctors can start prescribing exercise as an effective, individualized treatment to combat anxiety symptoms.