4.1 The correlation between how much you exercise and how anxious you feel.

What is anxiety? Anxiety is a natural reaction occurring at a certain point in the stress response when the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis start working at a high capacity. Emotionally anxiety insights fear (neurologically fear can be defined as the memory of danger) and some side effects of this can include feeling tense, uneasy, being short of breath, having an increased heart rate, sweating and chest pain (however chest pain only happens during full-fleged panic attacks). It is normal to have these responses when one feels anxious. However, when somebody feels overly worried and continually concerned when there is no real threat, that is anxiety disorder.

Over 40 million americans suffer from clinical anxiety each year (about 18% of the population). There are several types of anxieties including, but not limited to, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, specific phobias, and social anxiety disorder. While each disorder varies to an extent they all share physical symptoms (dry mouth, nausea, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, et cetera). Mostly the disorders differ in regards of context, when they occur.

Anxiety disorder is comparable to chronic stress in that there is a cognitive misinterpretation of the situation. As anxiety is fear and fear is the memory of danger anxiety occurs when someone is reminded of something of which they are fearful. Only for people with anxiety disorders this happens frequently and often unprovoked. The brain misinterprets the situation and an unprovoked anxiety attack occurs. Exercise can, and does, help to stop this. 

                        

When you exercise the muscles begin to work and, in order to fuel the muscles, the body breaks down fat molecules. This act frees fatty acids into the blood stream. Along with these idle fatty acids tryptophan, which is one of eight essential amino acids for the slots on transport proteins, pushes through the "blood-brain barrier" to equalize its levels and immediately help form the building block for serotonin (the neurotransmitter that best regulates mood, appetite, and sleep). There is not only a boost from tryptophan but also increased levels of the brain-derived-neurotrophic-factor (BDNF) which is another byproduct of exercise and also increases serotonin levels which causes calmness and a feeling of safety. 

Exercise also causes the release of gammaamino-butyric acid (GABA). GABA is the brain's major inhibitory neurotransmitter and, subsequently, the primary target for most anti anxiety medications. It is integral (having normal levels of GABA), on the cellular level, to stopping the purpose of anxiety which is "to interrupt the obsessive feedback loop in the brain." Additionally when the heart is pumping to a high capacity the muscle cells of the heart produce a molecule called atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) which calms the body down by stopping the body's hyper-arousal state. 

In Chile a study was done in 2005 which split 198 fifteen-year-olds into two groups: one group (the control group) had a once a week 90 minute gym class while the other exercised intensely during three 90 minute sessions each week. While the study was directed towards measuring mood changes in a heathy population the scores relating to anxiousness really stood out on the psychological tests. While the control group saw anxiety drop an average of 3% the experimental group saw a 14% drop. The experimental group's fitness also improved 8.5% while the control group's rose only 1.8%. The conclusion of the study? There is clearly a relationship between how much (and how intensely) you exercise and how anxious you feel. 

In fact the majority of studies exemplify the truth that aerobic exercise helps significantly to lessen the effects of any stress disorder. However, as I have said in previous posts, the positive implications of exercise are not limited to the alleviation of anxiety for those with anxiety disorders. Exercise helps to lower the level of anxiety in everyone, anxiety disorder or not. 

 

Sources:

SPARK The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain by. John J. Ratey, MD 

https://www.health.harvard.edu...and_physical_illness

http://www.anxietycentre.com/anxiety-symptoms.shtml

http://upliftconnect.com/brain-on-serotonin/

https://adaa.org/living-with-a...e-stress-and-anxiety

https://www.calmclinic.com/anx...treatment/exercising

 

Thanks for reading, 

 

Ben Laird 

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Original Post

Hey Ben!

I really enjoyed reading your post; it was very informative and definitely very interesting as well. Your research reminded me of my True vs Fake News post in which I talked about how one's mental health is directly affected by one's physical health. I think that may be something worth looking into since in this post, you talked about how someone's anxiety may improve if they exercise. So, doing some research on how someone with anxiety is affected if they do not take care of themselves physically, may be fascinating.

Here are some sources that may help:
https://www.calmclinic.com/anx...t-make-anxiety-worse 

https://www.healthcentral.com/...xiety-goes-untreated

https://www.health.harvard.edu...and_physical_illness

Good luck with your research! 

Hi Ben!

I like how you explained your research - it was very informative and enjoyable to read. I agree that exercising tends to lower my stress levels, because as I am exercising, I focus on the activity and seem to forget about my problems. However, it came to my mind that perhaps some people actually find exercising more stressful? That is, perhaps some people who are on a fairly competitive sports team find it stressful to go to practices if they have a strict coach, or to go to games if it's a really important one. Other than in those scenarios though, I agree that exercising is definitely a great way to lower one's stress and anxiety.

Here's a couple of websites that you may find useful for your research:

http://www.health.com/depressi...xiety-and-depression

https://www.psychologytoday.co...110/exercise-anxiety

Good luck!

Hi Ben

I really liked this post! It was informative and helpful for those who both have and don't have anxiety disorders. It made me think of something I read before and people on media have started talking a lot about how modern day youth and generations with more and more electronics have been exercising less and less and therefore our sense of danger has gone from life or death to simple day to day decisions like worrying about what to wear or what to spend our time doing, as well as modern day stresses like work or school has taken away some of the time that hundreds of years ago, people would spent outside in nature, exercising. It could be interesting to explore the correlation between exercise, anxiety, and how modern factors play into this as well? Here are some links that I thought were interesting.

http://www.artofmanliness.com/...of-physical-fitness/

http://www.apa.org/news/press/...s/2013/exercise.aspx

-Rachel

Hi Ben! 

I’m actually really happy you’re looking into this because I have a lot of anxiousness in my life, so it’s really good to learn! I think a lot of the images/attachments you included sum it up pretty well and I like you’re stats. 

 I also think that sometimes organized sports or strenuous physical activities can cause a lot of stress though, like Jessica said. It can be a really strict and competitive environment. Maybe you could look into that if your interested. 

 Good luck! 

Hey Ben,

It was very nice to read about your subject as often we overlook how physical activity and lifestyle affect our mentality. This was a very organized, articulate and neat post to read.

One of the pictures you posted says that "food is the most abused anxiety drug", maybe you could go into more detail about that?

Good work and good luck,
-Joanna Whitter

Hi Ben

I really liked your research! It was interesting, organized, and informative. I liked how you began with what anxiety is and then went into how excersize helps and proof. Maybe consider looking at how to overcome negative affects of anxiety or excersize, if you're interested, or other cures for anxiety?

Here are some websites that may help

http://www.anxietycentre.com/anxiety-cures.shtml

https://www.livestrong.com/art...effects-of-exercise/

Good luck!

Hey Ben

Very well done; a well organized, articulate post that I found very informative as well as engaging. As to the pictures that you added, I found the one that says "food is the most-abused anxiety drug" very interesting to consider. I think that there could be a deeper correlation between the two, so maybe it's something to look into despite it not being the focus of your inquiry. Good luck!

Jessica Scott (Charles Best) posted:

Hi Ben!

I like how you explained your research - it was very informative and enjoyable to read. I agree that exercising tends to lower my stress levels, because as I am exercising, I focus on the activity and seem to forget about my problems. However, it came to my mind that perhaps some people actually find exercising more stressful? That is, perhaps some people who are on a fairly competitive sports team find it stressful to go to practices if they have a strict coach, or to go to games if it's a really important one. Other than in those scenarios though, I agree that exercising is definitely a great way to lower one's stress and anxiety.

Here's a couple of websites that you may find useful for your research:

http://www.health.com/depressi...xiety-and-depression

https://www.psychologytoday.co...110/exercise-anxiety

Good luck!

Hey Jessica, 

While it is true that sports and their subsequent stress can be negative (as can exercise if someone pushes themselves too hard) that does't change the fact of exercise's reduction to anxiety as these are external variables. However, in a way you are right in that people can be, and sometimes are, afraid of exercising as it is in fact an actual phobia. There are some books that talk about how this fear of increased heart rate can be changed, slowly, into a positive correlation between exercise and good feelings by changing the way people think of exercise. That stuff is super cool! 

Thanks so much for the comment, I will definitely check out the websites!

Ben Laird

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