Anxiety is becoming an increasingly diagnosed disorder. This is bringing more and more people in contact with doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists, and increasingly anxiety is being treated with medication, therapy, and soothing treatments. This is a shame because since 2008 it has been proven that exercise:

Works better than:
– Stress management education
– Group therapy
– Stretching and yoga
– Relaxation and meditation

Is at least as good as:
– Cognitive behavioural therapy

And only marginally less effective than:
– Medication

If you broaden the criteria for each type of treatment beyond effectiveness in reducing anxiety and include things like cost, exposure to negative side effects, exposure to positive side effects, and preventative properties, exercise comes out as a clear winner.

Treating anxiety through exercise is about building a more stress tolerant mind and body because exercise induces small amounts of manageable stress (followed by recovery), which creates an adaptation response.

The study providing this evidence brought together the results of 27 randomised controlled trials (the most scientifically rigorous form of investigation). Details are:
Wipfli, B., Rethorst, C. & Landers, D. (2008), “Anxiolytic effects of exercise: a meta-analysis of randomised trials and dose-response analysis.” Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 30, 392-410