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.'
|Contact: Margaret Allen|
Southern Methodist University