Navigation Links
Study: People at risk for panic buffered from stressor by high levels of physical activity
Date:7/12/2011

Regular exercise may be a useful strategy for helping prevent the development of panic and related disorders, a new study suggests.

People with an intense fear of the nausea, racing heart, dizziness, stomachaches and shortness of breath that accompany panic known as "high anxiety sensitivity" reacted with less anxiety to a panic-inducing stressor if they had been engaging in high levels of physical activity, said researchers at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and the University of Vermont in Burlington.

"Anxiety sensitivity is an established risk factor for the development of panic and related disorders," said SMU psychologist Jasper Smits, lead author on the research. "This study suggests that this risk factor may be less influential among persons who routinely engage in high levels of physical activity."

Regular exercise as an alternative or complementary strategy to drugs and psychotherapy

There is already good evidence that exercise can be of help to people who suffer from depression and anxiety problems, say the researchers.

"We're not suggesting, 'Exercise instead of pharmacotherapy or psychotherapy," Smits said. "Exercise is a useful alternative, particularly for those without access to traditional treatments. Primary care physicians already prescribe exercise for general health, so exercise may have the advantage of helping reach more people in need of treatment for depression and anxiety."

Smits reported the findings in "The Interplay Between Physical Activity and Anxiety Sensitivity in Fearful Responding to Carbon Dioxide Challenge," an article that has published online and is in press with the scientific journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

Co-authors include SMU psychology researchers Candyce Tart and David Rosenfield, and University of Vermont psychologist Michael Zvolensky.

New study adds to earlier research finding exercise reduces anxiety

The study builds on findings of earlier research, outlined in "Exercise for Mood and Anxiety: Proven strategies for overcoming depression and enhancing well-being" (Oxford University Press, 2011) by psychologists Michael Otto and Jasper Smits. That research indicates exercise improves mood and reduces anxiety, working like "an antidepressant drug." See smu.research.com for a link to the article and book.

Also, a 2008 study by Smits, director of the SMU Anxiety Research & Treatment Program and an associate professor in the SMU Psychology Department, and Otto, a professor in Boston University's Psychology Department, indicated that exercise can also reduce anxiety sensitivity. That research, combined with the new findings, indicates that exercise may be an effective strategy for the prevention and treatment of anxiety disorders.

"Exercise can be a powerful addition to the range of treatments for depression, anxiety, and general stress," said Otto. "And when people exercise to feel good, they are also taking the exact steps they need to benefit their general health."

Those with high anxiety sensitivity are at greater risk of an attack

Anxiety sensitivity is the extent to which individuals fear they will be harmed by anxiety-related bodily sensations such as a racing heart, dizziness and shortness of breath, say the authors.

Research shows that the higher a person's anxiety sensitivity, the greater their risk for developing panic attacks and related psychological disorders.

"For people who have high anxiety sensitivity, the symptoms of anxiety tend to signal threat," said Smits. "They worry, 'I'll have a panic attack,' 'I'll die,' 'I'll go crazy,' 'I'll lose control' or 'I'll make a fool of myself.' That's been widely studied as one of the risk factors for development of anxiety disorders, mostly panic. And it's a robust risk factor in that it's been replicated in several studies."

Physical activity + fear of panic sensations = less reactivity to panic-relevant stressor

For the latest study, the researchers measured anxiety reactivity to a panic-related stressor, namely the inhalation of carbon dioxide-enriched air.

Study participants were 145 adult volunteers who had no history of panic attacks. After completing questionnaires measuring their physical activity and anxiety sensitivity, the participants inhaled a mixture of room air enriched with carbon dioxide, a benign procedure that typically induces a number of bodily sensations, including nausea, racing heart, dizziness, stomachaches and shortness of breath.

After inhalation, participants indicated their level of anxiety in reaction to the sensations.

The results showed that anxiety reactivity to the stressor was dampened among individuals who have been regularly engaging in high levels of physical activity.


'/>"/>

Contact: Margaret Allen
mallen@smu.edu
214-768-7664
Southern Methodist University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Study: urban black bears live fast, die young
2. Study: Bird diversity lessens human exposure to West Nile Virus
3. Study: Tropical wetlands hold more carbon than temperate marshes
4. Study: Wildlife need more complex travel plans
5. Study: Elderly Women can increase strength but still risk falls
6. UNC study: Text messaging may help children fight off obesity
7. Study: Did early climate impact divert a new glacial age?
8. Study: Excessive use of antiviral drugs could aid deadly flu
9. UNC study: Tinkering with the circadian clock can suppress cancer growth
10. Study: Fluid buildup in lungs is part of the damage done by the flu
11. Study: Health undervalued in reproductive rights debate
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Study: People at risk for panic buffered from stressor by high levels of physical activity
(Date:2/3/2016)... 2016 Vigilant Solutions announces today that the ... Missouri solved two recent hit-and-run cases ... from Vigilant Solutions. Brian Wenberg explains, ... victim was walking out of a convenience store and witnessed an elderly male ... vehicle, striking his vehicle and leaving the scene.  In ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... , Feb. 2, 2016 Technology Enhancements Accelerate ... an analysis of the digital and computed radiography markets ... , and Indonesia (TIM). ... and market size, as well as regional market drivers ... and discusses market penetration and market attractiveness, both for ...
(Date:2/1/2016)... ( www.wocketwallet.com ) announces the launch of a new video featuring singer, ... Las Vegas , where Joey appeared at the Wocket booth to ... , where Joey appeared at the Wocket booth to meet and greet ... the Consumer Electronics Show (CES2016) in Las Vegas , ... --> --> The video is ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/4/2016)... -- Beike Biotechnology, the Shenzhen ... in late 2015 to mark their successful combined efforts ... --> --> The signing, ... Therapy" was hosted by the Shenzhen Cell Bank and ... Beike Biotechnology Co., Ltd. Shenzhen,s ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... Md. , Feb. 4, 2016  Spherix Incorporated ... to the fostering and monetization of intellectual property, today ... and Uniden in the Northern District of ... moving forward.  Inter Partes Re-examination ... U.S. Patent Office.  The IPR was initiated on only ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... 2016   ViaCyte, Inc ., a leading, ... stem cell-derived islet replacement therapy for the treatment ... announced that ViaCyte and Janssen Biotech, Inc., one ... Johnson, have agreed to consolidate the assets of ... provides ViaCyte with an exclusive license to all ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... N.J. , Feb. 3, 2016 ... totaling more than $1 million for researchers in ... working on health-related research that demonstrates exciting potential. ... round of funding for the New Jersey Health Foundation ... faculty members at these educational institutions— Princeton University, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: