The benefits of sport in anxiety and panic

Doing deep breathing exercises, developing a hobby or interest, talking and going out for fresh air are some of the recommendations made to people with anxiety and panic. All of them contribute to well-being, but there are also benefits of sport in anxiety and panic.

Anxiety is one of the disorders that afflict the world today. The hyperkinetic rhythm and the excessive desire for success imposed on us, means that the only possibility of sustaining it is to get involved in an angiogenic syndrome that is dangerous. For this reason, we must look for healthy damping factors.

The regular practice of physical exercise contributes to improving mood and increasing the feeling of well-being. Therefore it is recommended that anxious people practice physical activities.

Most studies about the relationship between physical exercise and anxiety conclude that the punctual practice of sport can reduce the level of state anxiety, that is, the reaction of anxiety experienced in a specific and limited situation.

Also, some studies indicate that the regular practice of exercise can reduce the levels of general anxiety linked to biological and personality factors , typical of people predisposed to be more anxious, impressionable, with a tendency to overestimate risks and maintain a high level of alertness. .

With regard to panic attacks, many people who suffer from this disorder are afraid of the physical symptoms that accompany an attack, be it tachycardia, hyperventilation, sweating, among others, and they are hypervigilant regarding any small variation in your heart rate, sweating, breathing, etc. For such reasons, some people with this disorder avoid activities that involve physical exertion.

However, research has been conducted that reveals that patients with panic disorder can practice intense physical exercise with a low risk of experiencing a panic attack. In fact, there are studies that recommend the therapeutic use of physical activity in a complementary way to the usual treatments.


Biological benefits of sport in anxiety and panic

There are mechanisms involved in the relationship between exercise and anxiety, which are mainly of a biological and psychological nature. With regard to biological mechanisms, it can be said that physical exercise improves the regulation of the cardiovascular and respiratory system by affecting the autonomic nervous system. This improvement can increase the body’s ability to modulate the reaction to the demands of the environment.

Therefore, there is research that concludes that the practice of exercise improves the functioning of the autonomic nervous system. Physical exercise also stimulates the immune system , as it facilitates the elimination of harmful substances from the body, and promotes the regeneration of the same. It also promotes the increase in the number of lymphocytes – white blood cells – reducing the risk of disease development.

On the other hand, the practice of sport promotes in the long term an increase in serotonin levels (the neurotransmitter of well-being), which is involved in the body’s response to stress. Increasing levels of serotonin at the brain level can contribute to improving mood and reducing anxiety.

In addition, physical exercise naturally stimulates the availability of this neurotransmitter. Also sport is involved in reducing the levels of cortisol , a hormone that is involved in the body’s response to stress, as evidenced by studies on resistance exercise combined with cognitive therapy cortisol measurements.

Physical activity contributes to the stimulation of the pituitary gland that acts in the production of endorphins. These internal morphines are hormones linked to neurotransmission functions, involved in the regulation of pain and the feeling of well-being.

The natural stimulation of this system through physical exercise can cause analgesia, which implies less pain and improves mood by its euphoric and relaxing effects, as well as modifying the mood towards good humor and generating positive thoughts .

Psychological benefits of sport in anxiety and panic

As far as psychological mechanisms are concerned, it is observed that physical exercise regulates mood improvement. Various studies show that it facilitates the management of negative emotions, such as anger and rage and, on the other hand, helps improve the quality of sleep. Increases the feeling of strength, security and control over oneself and the environment. In this sense, it contributes with a better perception of the feeling of self-efficacy.

The weekly practice of a sport can optimize self-esteem, since changes in the body contribute to improve body image and promote feelings of greater mastery of skills and physical ability. It is important to choose physical activities that are pleasant and enjoyable, so that they are practiced on a regular basis. 

The prescription of physical activity in patients with panic disorders has several benefits. Not only because of the traditional virtues, but because strategically panicose patients so commonly self-managed are forced to leave their home and breathe outdoors in outdoor sports activities or socialize in gyms.

There are studies that attest to it using training in aerobic exercises as facilitators of therapy in panic disorders or effects of sports performance in situations of pressure and anxiety, or the effects of sports performance on emotional life.

The idea is that the patient mobilizes his social part and leaves his seclusion , activates his endorphins and can contact his body in a positive way.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends physical exercise 4 or 5 times a week at a walking pace of 10 minutes per km totaling 3 km, while you can run at the speed of forced gait.

WHO experts also indicate that all physical activity, whether moderate or vigorous, is beneficial. So, walking, running, dancing, swimming, cycling, or doing housework, counts.

The benefits are numerous such as cardiovascular, cardiorespiratory, strengthening and increasing muscle mass, fat removal, joint strengthening, beyond psychological effects such as relaxation, positive thoughts, cutting stressful activities, stimulation. to creativity, among other factors.


To reflect a little …

The person should take the time to exercise: put on the shoes and go for a walk or run. It is not about giving a secondary role to the activity but about giving it an important status , something that does not happen frequently. Many walk to their work because they are close, others are only going to make the purchase for the same and, in the end, they are not really exercising.

It is not that it is a wrong activity, but it is about making the place in life for that sports break: it is a moment that I dedicate to me is the premise. It is important to connect with the green, the earth, the birds, the river, the park, the music in the headphones or the sound of nature: all tempting images of that space.

The use of sport is to speak the language of the body, so used in anxiety and panic. This practice makes it possible to advance and develop multiple personal resources,  improving aesthetics, health and self-assessment, and basically making us live a quieter life, more connected with ourselves, detecting what is good for us.

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