Exercise or Relaxation May Reduce Anxiety

If you feel that nothing is going your way and everyone is against you, maybe what you need is a few minutes of exercise or relaxation. Either option can reduce the tendency to view new circumstances negatively, according to a study published in PLOS ONE.

One reason people suffer from excess anxiety is that they tend to interpret neutral situations as threatening. This stimulates a vicious cycle because as anxiety increases, people are more likely to perceive fresh circumstances as hostile, and eventually the fear that builds up can become overwhelming.

Researchers wanted to examine whether people would perceive their environment as less threatening after engaging in physical exercise or after doing a relaxation technique called progressive muscle relaxation.

They found that people who either walked or jogged on the treadmill for 10 minutes or performed progressive muscle relaxation (while being shown full-body stick figures) perceived these ambiguous figures as facing toward them less often than those who stood on the treadmill and were shown the figures.

The scientists noted that when a viewer perceives an ambiguous figure as facing toward, rather than away from them, it suggests that the viewer is seeing the figure as a threat. Study results showed that engaging in  a few minutes of exercise or relaxing breathing techniques reduced this tendency to perceive an uncertain situation as a threat.

This is a big development because it helps to explain why exercising and relaxation techniques have been successful in treating mood and anxiety disorders in the past.

Resources: IDEA Fitness Journal

Michelle’s ability to wear many hats has made her a valuable asset to the Y.E.S. Fitness team.

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