Exorcise Anxiety with Exercise - The 6 Best Exercises for Anxiety - Ascendment Mental Health Blog

Exorcise Anxiety with Exercise – The 6 Best Exercises for Anxiety

Exercise is nature’s antidote to relieving anxiety and depression. It should be the number one method on a masterplan to improve our mental health. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins which improve our state of wellbeing.

We’ve put together a list of the best exercises you can do to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve your overall sense of well-being. At the same time, all of these exercises provide physical benefits.

The 6 Best Exercises to Relieve Anxiety & Depression

1. Resistance Training

Multiple studies have shown that resistance training significantly reduces symptoms of anxiety. Resistance training = lifting weights. The benefits of resistance training are endless. When regularly performing resistance training you are strengthening your muscles, increasing muscle mass, and burning fat thus improving the aesthetics of your physique. Lifting weights also improves your cardiovascular capabilities, but the cherry on the top is the numerous mental health benefits this form of training provides.

Resistance training releases the following feel-good hormones: endorphins, endocannabinoids, and dopamine. These chemicals alleviate stress, anxiety, depression, and even physical pain. Training this way also improves clarity and focus and helps to remove brain fog. After a training session our mood is boosted as well as our self-confidence. It can also improve our sleep which in turn helps to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Relieve Anxiety & Depression with Resistance Training

2. Legs

We usually don’t look forward to leg day. Reason being – it’s damn hard work! But the results and afterglow are incredibly rewarding. Working the larger muscles in the lower body is scientifically proven to release more hormones into the body including human growth hormone. This allows quicker muscle recovery and helps to rebuild muscles bigger and stronger. More hormones such as endorphins being released also means even better wellbeing benefits compared to training the upper body.

If you’ve experienced the results after an intense leg workout you know the feeling is unparalleled. It’s almost spiritual. Consider training legs as your once weekly system reset. Train the other main body parts across two or three more training sessions so you are training 3-4 times per week in total and imagine the improvement in your mental health over the course of a few months. This is when the compound effect takes place.

3. Yoga

Yoga is an excellent tool to utilize to improve anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that symptoms of depression have reduced significantly after performing yoga for 12 weeks.

It is thought that yoga dates back as much as 5,000 years! It has been used by civilizations far more in touch with their spiritual side than modern day western society.

Yoga calms the mind and body. It often involves meditation, breath work, and sound frequencies which reduce tension and alleviate stress putting us in a state of serenity. The practice is also thought to reduce inflammation. In addition, physical benefits such as increased flexibility, better posture, and increased strength make yoga a superb option for improving our all-round wellbeing.

Relieve Anxiety & Depression with Yoga

4. Pilates

Pilates is a form of exercise that trains the whole body. It increases core strength, improves posture, prevents injuries, improves balance, and decreases stress. Its ability to relieve stress improves our mental state and reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression.

A 2020 study found that Pilates significantly reduced anxiety and feelings of fatigue. Similar to Yoga, Pilates helps to induce us into a relaxed state that can help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. The movement of the body also releases feel-good hormones such as endorphins.

5. Tai chi

Tai chi is known as an “internal martial art”. It comprises of slow and gentle movements of different parts of the body. A study in 2018 showed that it provided the same benefits for managing stress-related anxiety as more rigorous forms of exercise.

The slow and gentle movements in Tai chi induce a sense of calmness that helps to reduce stress and anxiety. This type of exercise allows us to center ourselves and become present, and our worries alleviate.  

6. Boxing & Martial Arts

There are various forms of martial arts such as karate, taekwondo, judo, jiu-jitsu, Thai kickboxing, and the increasingly popular MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) which combines many of these different forms.

Like with other forms of exercise you are getting the benefits of feel-good hormones being released when performing martial arts. They also see improvements in cardiovascular performance and physique. The added benefit of learning a martial art is the incredible self-confidence that the knowledge that you can defend yourself brings. Knowing a martial art increases your self-esteem which reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

Relieve Anxiety & Depression with Boxing & Martial Arts

In our Beat Anxiety & Depression Guide we cover the importance of exercise along with other key techniques to drastically improve your mental health. We also have an entire chapter dedicated to exercise in our Full Guide to “Transform Your Life”.

If you want to start improving your mindset first, you can get our free guide here.

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