Physical activity has an anxiolytic effect

10,000 steps and more. Regular physical activity has positive effects on depression, as scientific literature has shown for many years. It also alleviates symptoms of anxiety. A Swedish team from Gothenburg University studied 286 patients – 70% women – half of whom had suffered from anxiety disorders for at least ten years, with an average age of 39, the effects of accompanied exercise sessions , in groups, either of moderate to low intensity or of high intensity, for twelve weeks, comparing them to a set of control patients. The study, published online in Journal of Affective Disorders in November, shows that symptoms of anxiety were “Significantly reduced with these exercises (one hour session three times a week), whatever their intensity, with a little more effect when the exercise was more intense”, indicate the authors.

Remember that anxiety is characterized “By a persistent feeling of insecurity, a permanent and excessive worry that interferes with daily activities”, according to Inserm. This can take the form of panic disorder, generalized anxiety, phobias… This leads to ruminations accompanied by physical and psychological symptoms. Twice as common in women as in men, anxiety disorders affect around 15% to 20% of the population at one time or another.

A meta-analysis coordinated by Elizabeth Aylett (University of Manchester), which identified 15 studies, carried out on 675 patients, had already shown that aerobic exercise has been shown to be effective in the treatment of anxiety. A study conducted in prison on 37 prisoners (who had never been imprisoned) by Fabien Legrand, lecturer in psychology at the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, illustrates the benefits of the exercise.

How to explain this therapeutic effect? The socializing aspect of sport could be beneficial. But the positive effects have also been shown by doing physical activity alone. We also know that it improves self-esteem. Furthermore, “It has been shown that aerobic, thanks to the regulation of breathing that it generates, improves panic disorder”, underlines Antoine Pelissolo, head of the psychiatry department at Henri-Mondor and Albert-Chenevier hospitals (AP-HP, Créteil), who also mentions “The effects on stress management, improvement of sleep, and therefore indirectly on fatigue”.

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