Aside from being a natural deterrent against disease, improves memory and increases longevity, exercise has been proven also to enhance our mental health. Also found to help in the treatment of depression, a 2013 study from Princeton University has also found that exercise can generate new brain cells and at the same time, shut them down accordingly. This means exercise stops the brain from feeling anxious and depressed.
So when my patients ask me if there are specific exercises that can help them alleviate their anxiety and depression – especially for cancer patients – or even if they’re just experiencing the blues, I recommend them these types of exercises:
Anyone who gets into the beat with Zumba will probably understand why it’s one of the more popular dance moves to hit the country now. Not only does it provide an excellent kind of aerobic exercise guaranteed to blast away all your calories, it also generates a strong community feel. The upbeat music makes it so fun to engage in, especially when you dance with a large group of people or with friends that are also into the same kind of interest. Guaranteed to drive your anxiety away!
Tai Chi is one of the gentler kind of exercise, sometimes associated with elderly people and with Asian ancestry. But it certainly is one of the more calming exercises – and when performed with a group, looks so beautiful because it looks like a slow dance. Definitely a great way to improve that mind-body connection with its slow, flowing movements. A great exercise to melt away your anxiety.
If you want to dissipate your stress, better pile it on a punching bag! Kickboxing certainly can take out your stress and leave you fitter as well. Some people prefer high-energy cardio workouts more (the belief is people keep on coming back for more kickboxing because of the mental benefits). It develops a faster and quicker mind.
Bellydancing is reputed to be a great way to remove anxiety. Aside from tapping into the Divine Feminine, it stimulates the vagus nerve which according to studies, relieves anxiety and depression when stimulated.
Pilates exercises are great for keeping balance within oneself and hence, a good way to keep your anxiety at manageable levels. Since it straightens the spine, it can also generate a feeling of self-confidence and calm, hence an added boon to your anxiety levels.
A regular yoga practice is an excellent way to keep your anxiety levels in check. Combining correct breathing, movement and meditation is an excellent formula for calm and composure. Although some experts say if one is too anxious, one cannot focus on doing all the asana (poses), I still believe that it would be a great way to bring your anxiety in check and keeping oneself centered. Hence, one is at peace with oneself.
How about you – do you have other exercises to keep anxiety levels in check? Share with us in the comments below!
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