Single Bout of Exercise Has Detectable Effect on Reducing Anxiety

Rob Wipond
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Researchers in Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois reported in Depression and Anxiety that their meta-analysis of the scientific literature showed that “a single bout” of exercise could reduce anxiety symptoms.

The researchers noted that 25 years ago a similar meta-analysis had found that “an acute or single bout of exercise reduced state anxiety by approximately ¼ standard deviation.” So the team examined 36 studies from the last 25 years that met their inclusion criteria.

“The cumulative evidence from high quality studies indicates that acute bouts of exercise can yield a small reduction in state anxiety,” they concluded. However, many of the studies included people with normal or low levels of anxiety, and the researchers suggested that future studies might provide more robust or clearer findings if focused mainly on people reporting high levels of anxiety.

Ensari, Ipek, Tina A. Greenlee, Robert W. Motl, and Steven J. Petruzzello. “Meta-Analysis of Acute Exercise Effects on State Anxiety: An Update of Randomized Controlled Trials Over the Past 25 Years.” Depression and Anxiety, April 1, 2015, n/a – n/a. doi:10.1002/da.22370. (Abstract)

10 COMMENTS

  1. The anxiety that you notice to be lessened is the better anxiety to have. But the implication follows that to get at noticing less because of one bout of exercise, takes many bouts of non-exercise for comparison. Good to know. Yet, obviously, feeling better has to pay off in your social and work life wth better communication, relationships, and opportunities to blaze your own trail, or the therapeutic change won’t last. The results here are hard for me to make complete sense of because the fact is clear that you can become a nervous wreck despite great athleticism. So reading is required more than speculation. If mention isn’t made of shift in attention to physical activity providing someone with fresh chances to gain control over their emotions, put natural aggresiveness on their side in the equation, and use the distraction from the concern giving rise to the emotion in order to prove to yourself that your reactions aren’t signs of dangerous personlity dysfunctions–then I won’t know what they think they were up to.

    • “The results here are hard for me to make complete sense of because the fact is clear that you can become a nervous wreck despite great athleticism.”

      Maybe because people have different reasons to be anxious and are in general different. These are statistical data on many people. Statistically each of us has less than two legs and we mostly live in China.

  2. Ok, this is real nonsense, mere scientism on parade again. To try to study human beings as puddles of independent and dependent variables is pure tomfoolery. This research design is exactly analogous to cutting off animal tales and manually flapping them around in the interest of seeing how the motion might connect with the furious little oscillations of the still observable stump. Besides not seeing how that would represent a noteworthy first effort for a twenty-five year review of studies in tailwagging mechanics, what would it have to do with the motion of life forms anyway? Similarly, noone is just some reactions that they modulate, and no doctor has to refer to calming down with some exercise “which you may find to help sometimes pretty well” by producing documentation beyond what experience proves. This is itself evidence of exercises in group narcissism in science. But the attention to brain shri kage from neuroleptics competes with it and seems less exciting to the press and public? I think Dr. Tim Carey’s interest in new models for studying persons and lower organisms in holistic environmental terms is going to afford us hints here on MIA about why researches like this appear obsolete at inception.

    • “Besides not seeing how that would represent a noteworthy first effort for a twenty-five year review of studies in tailwagging mechanics”
      Made my day ;P.

      “But the attention to brain shrinkage from neuroleptics competes with it and seems less exciting to the press and public?”
      You can get accused of stigmatizing the “mentally ill” and killing people by making them stop their “medications”. PR intimidation machine in action. Plus these lovely pharma ads bring a lot of money.

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