According to a new study, regular exercise can alleviate symptoms of anxiety, even when the disorder is chronic. The research has been published in the 'Journal of Affective Disorders'.
The study was based on 286 patients with anxiety syndrome, recruited from primary care services in Gothenburg and the northern part of Halland County. Half of the patients had lived with anxiety for at least ten years. Their average age was 39 years, and 70 percent were women.
Through drawing of lots, participants were assigned to group exercise sessions, either moderate or strenuous, for 12 weeks. The results showed that their 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.
Most individuals in the treatment groups went from a baseline level of moderate to high anxiety to a low anxiety level after the 12-week program. For those who exercised at relatively low intensity, the chance of improvement in terms of anxiety symptoms rose by a factor of 3.62. The corresponding factor for those who exercised at higher intensity was 4.88. Participants had no knowledge of the physical training or counselling people outside their own group was receiving.