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I have read somewhere that exercise can also help in curing depression and anxiety. I am suffering from anxiety from last 4-5 years.

Is there any specific exercises that I can do to cure my anxiety or to minimize its effect by more than 75%?

Thank you in advance.

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    I'm not sure if this is on topic, so I won't vote to close (yet). Assuming we're talking clinically relevant anxiety and not shyness, though, I'm pretty sure the interwebs is not exactly equipped to answer your question. This sounds more like a job for a medical professional. – LarissaGodzilla Jun 9 '15 at 9:59
  • Well if fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/1726/… this a good question then mine is too.. Just we do not have separate portal for Mental fitness on StackExchange thats why I had to ask this question here – captainsac Jun 9 '15 at 10:01
  • In that case, have you seen a medical professional and if so, what did they say? – LarissaGodzilla Jun 9 '15 at 10:04
  • They gave me medications.. :( – captainsac Jun 9 '15 at 10:05
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    This is a valid question. I had the same problem myself a few years ago. The way it helped me is keeping my body and mind busy. I listen to music while lifting weights and watched a TV show on my phone while running. I found that working my whole body (mainly cardio exercises) helped me more that just lifting weights. Sorry I can't give much more details, because I really don't know the science behind it. But like I said, keeping my mind busy helped a lot. I also worked out in the evening so that when I get home I just take a shower and head to bed. I was so tired I fall asleep quickly. – MB41 Aug 25 '15 at 13:49
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There's a lot of data to support exercise contributing to better physical health and mental health. A 2005 study from Brazil targeted the elderly, and states:

Comparing the groups after the study period, we found a significant decrease in depressive and anxiety scores and an improvement in the quality of life in the experimental group, but no significant changes in the control group.

The Mayo clinic spells it out pretty clearly as well:

Research on anxiety, depression and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help reduce anxiety and improve mood.

The links between anxiety, depression and exercise aren't entirely clear — but working out and other forms of physical activity can definitely ease symptoms of anxiety or depression and make you feel better. Exercise may also help keep anxiety and depression from coming back once you're feeling better.

An interesting concept is found in yet another study with positive correlation results between exercise and mental health (this time in breast cancer survivors):

Mild to moderate aerobic exercise may be of therapeutic value to breast cancer survivors with respect to depressive and anxiety symptoms but not to self-esteem. A physician's recommendation to exercise appears to be an important factor in a patient's exercise adherence.

Sticking With It

Every thing I've seen, and what I've referenced shows that there's a clear connection between physical fitness and positive mental health results. In that first study the subjects were exposed to ~30 minutes of aerobic activity for six months. In the latter study, it's noted that the power of a physician's recommendation was needed for the results, simply because of adherence.

So whether it's about body building results or keeping depression at bay, the deciding factor is consistency. An old running coach told me that training is like trying to fill up a bathtub one teaspoon at a time, with each day representing a teaspoon: there's no way to rush the process, and it's the cumulative impact over time that matters.

Exercise types

The data currently suggests that effective workouts you stick with are by far the deciding factor in impact. A "more effective" activity that you don't do like clockwork is as a result less effective.

I'm a huge advocate of strength training. Perhaps you can put another question together outlining your physical fitness goals and what you have to work with (gym membership, ice rink, you live in the woods, etc).

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I'm usually a proponent of strength training in most cases, but for anxiety, I would personally recommend cardio or something that really makes you feel like you have no energy left, where you can really push yourself in that way.

Martial arts or running.

  • +1. Brings up my point from my comment to OP. Cardio helped me greatly and listening to music or watching a TV show while on a treadmill helped keep my mind busy. Running outside is also good because (I don't know if you do, but some people do) some people feel self conscience in the gym and running outside would let you focus more on yourself. – MB41 Aug 25 '15 at 13:52
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There's one exercise that has been prescribed to cure anxiety.

Meditation (or Deep Breathing)!

It's not really an exercise (in the literal form of the word); however, meditation has been proven to reduce anxiety as much as possible.

For specific exercises, I will recommend Yoga. These won't magically cure your anxiety; however, they allow your brain to relax and calm down.

Also, people have different activities that take their minds off their troubles and calm them down. Some run; others walk. Some sleep, others knit. Through trial and error, you should find an activity that works for you. Once found, keep it in your bag of tricks. :)

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I have read somewhere that exercise can also help in curing dipression and anxiety.

I have read this too. It helps regulate chemicals in the brain that cause depression (some depression is simply not in your head; a person can have everything but cannot absorb happiness around them due to chemical balance)

I am suffering from anxiety from last 4-5 years.

I am really sorry to hear this. Realize you are not alone. Perhaps something would have triggered this, don't want to pry.

Is there any specific exercises that I can do to cure my anxiety or to minimise

Hard-core cardio. I suggest training for some heavy duty competition, such as Spartan races and obstacle course. You need strength, endurance, stamina, and a fighting spirit ... In your case you are FIGHTING anxiety and depression.

its effect by more than 75%?

I don't know exact numbers, but it's better than vegging out on the couch.

Warning though ... at first when you do heavy duty cardio you might find more of the unpleasant feelings rise up so intensely that you want to cry .... go ahead and let yourself cry .... cry really hard .... then get up and do what you got to do.

I believe the anxiety and depression arises during exercise because you are thinking about the exercise you need to do and counting the repetitions, it's similar to meditation actually because you are quieting your mind to do task that is challenging your body and you need determination and willpower.

May I also suggest you browse Buddhism.stackexchange.com ; it would also help with depression and anxiety.

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    Hardcore cardio for someone suffering from anxiety? Won't that increase the stress on the body (unless the person loves the exercise)? – Kneel-Before-ZOD Jun 9 '15 at 17:45
  • @Kneel-Before-ZOD I'm speaking from life-long observations, and gave disclaimer that at first, it may bring out more unpleasant feelings, but don't OP should think they are inferior because they are faced with such thoughts again. – Rhonda Jun 9 '15 at 18:27
  • +1 for the answer. @Kneel-Before-ZOD, it does put a stress on your body, but it also helps improve your lungs and endurance. It forces you to focus on your body rather than your mind. The problem with depression is that you tend to overthink things and worry about everything. When I was reaching that point, I started running and training for Tough Mudder and kept my mind busy. Which in return, helped me focus more on school, work, and family. Not to mention your body feels amazing after consecutive cardio workouts. – MB41 Aug 25 '15 at 13:57
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Exercise will not 'cure' anxiety. It may help lessen the symptoms of anxiety, but it will not cure anxiety. Anxiety and/or depression (they are closely related) is almost always associated with stress combined with your thoughts. What are you thinking? What are you telling yourself on a daily basis? What do you worrying about? These are all stressors, and there are many more.

I went through a serious bout of anxiety about 7 years ago, and it lasted for about 9 months. I learned a great deal about anxiety during this time. There is no magic cure. Not exercise, not medication, not special foods etc. You need to change the way you think about things and deal with issues. You need to get plenty of rest. Light to mild exercise will help the symptoms of anxiety. Exercising too hard will make your condition worse, because exercise stresses your body.

Also know that you can be completely cured of anxiety, as I am. But the cure starts in your mind, your thoughts and how you deal with life.

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