12 Ways Exercise Boosts Mental Health: Easing Depression, Revving Up Sex Drive, Calming Anxiety and More

Working out also boosts self-confidence and helps with PMS, stress and quitting smoking (13 Photos)

Stacey Colino on Oct 28, 2012 at 11:50PM

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12 Ways Exercise Boosts Mental Health: Easing Depression, Revving Up Sex Drive, Calming Anxiety and More

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Jog Away from Anxiety

To explore the potential benefit of exercise for anxiety-related conditions, researchers at Southern Methodist University in Dallas had two groups of people with anxiety sensitivity (fears of anxiety-related sensations) exercise regularly, with one group also participating in a cognitive restructuring intervention. After two weeks, both groups experienced significant reductions in anxiety sensitivity. The theory about how exercise helps: “Exercise provides exposure to bodily sensations that people with anxiety sensitivity fear (a racing heart, rapid breathing, sweating) and may therefore provide the kind of learning that reduces anxiety,” explains Jasper Smits, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at SMU and coauthor of Exercise for Mood and Anxiety: Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being. To beat anxiety, Smits recommends engaging in moderate-intensity aerobic activities that increase your heart rate and breathing rate but allow you to carry on a conversation; aim for 150 minutes per week.

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