Exercise and Anxiety

The standard approach to dealing with anxiety or moderate depression has been medication or therapy. Rarely has exercise been included in the prescription, but research indicates this should change. “This is a good intervention, particularly for mild to moderate depression,” says Jasper Smits, a psychologist at Southern Methodist University.

Data from several studies now suggests exercise offers immediate and lasting relief, similar to that offered by talk therapy and medication, adds Daniel Landers of Arizona State University.

Smits takes it a step further and advocates a written exercise prescription, complete with doses. Biking, walking, running and swimming would all fit the prescription and provide the body with a dose of serotonin and other “feel good” chemicals, which are often low in depressed persons. Most studies indicate about 2 hours of moderate exercise a week does the trick.