Exercise as it relates to Disease/Effects of exercise on anxiety/The Effects of exercise on Anxiety

What is the background to this research?Edit

Anxiety sensitivity is the behaviours or the fears associated with anxiety and is the lead up to panic attacks or panic disorders. It's a more intense sensation form of anxiety that is often harmful to the body. No one knows what causes anxiety or how to fully cure someone from the mental health illness as its often triggered by a range of environmental and social factors that are traumatic to the individual. In relation to exercise to date, there isn't a lot of studies done on it as often individuals suffering from the illness don't want to partake in the studies, but there is evidence that suggests exercise helps with anxiety[1]. This study is important for individuals living with anxiety as it helps manage the behaviours and fears and allows individuals to live a life without restrictions and fears.

Where is the research from?Edit

This research is important to share with others as around 40 million people worldwide suffer from anxiety symptoms are have anxiety, so this research can promote a lifestyle to help them manage their day to day life. The researcher of this article Joshua J Broman-Fulks[2] is a professor and part of the department of psychology at the University of Appalachian and focuses on the diagnosis, assessment, treatment, and prevention of anxiety disorders but her main interest is identifying risk factors or the development and maintenance of anxiety and other mental illnesses[3]. However, not everyone agrees that exercise does help reduce the emotions and fears associated with anxiety as there are forums online that suggest that exercise doesn't help with anxiety and depression as you need to have a good relationship with it to start with, the online forum SELF suggests that exercise can create more problems then good for people with anxiety or depression an article states that "Whatever burst of carefree, blissful energy I got when the workout was done was swallowed by the shame of not having done more" and other agreed with the statement coming to a conclusion that health professions need to do more than prescribing just exercise[4]

What kind of research was this?Edit

This study done was a questionnaire-based on the use of multiple papers and questions with the same group of participants. The questionnaires used were: • Body Sensations Questionnaire (BSQ) • Anxiety Sensitivity Index (ASI) • State-trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) Evidence from this kind study can be different to others as questionnaires are often based off what individuals are thinking and it can be based on the perception that they have of themselves of anxiety, whilst other scientific studies such as randomized control trials often involve brain scans and anatomical tests to determine results and not based on what individuals say. As often questionnaires have issues because what people think about themselves isn't always the reality of the situation. This can lead to false results as scientist can’t determine if the participant is being truthful or not.

What did the research involve?Edit

The research has before, after and post-tests consisting of 3 different questionnaires with 54 participants were split up into two groups, one group did high-intensity aerobic exercise and the other did light-intensity aerobic exercise. Each group exercised for 20 minutes (excluding warm-up and cool down) 2-4 times a week, 6 sessions over 2 weeks. Participants picked to do the high intensity wore heart rate monitors and exercised 60-90% of their predicted heart rate max running/ jogging on a treadmill. The low-intensity group did a similar protocol, but their target heart rate was 60% of their predicted max. This methodology was most appropriate for this experiment as questionnaire/interviews are the only way to get information on how people are feeling to date. Limitations of this research consist of that during the recruitment it was very selective of the individuals chosen, indicating exercise may work for just these individuals with anxiety without any other diseases.

What were the basic results?Edit

The most important findings were that both light and high-intensity aerobic training a few times a week reduces the behaviours associated with anxiety, the results even found that training once a week reduced the effects. Although both levels of intensity showed results, high-intensity showed better results in the follow-up tests and the only intensity to reduce the feeling of fear. These results show a clear relationship between exercise reduces the fears and behaviours of individuals who suffer from anxiety, especially high-intensity exercise as it was emphasized to show better results for a longer period of time.

What conclusions can we take from this research?Edit

This article brings us to the conclusion that for a narrow audience of people with a certain type of anxiety exercise at both light and high-intensity can reduce the feelings that come with anxiety however, more research needs to be done on a wider range of people suffering from anxiety, but this is difficult as the illness prevents participants from doing experiments like this. It also suggests that exercise is also important for our mental health as well as our physical health. Other researchers have mixed results, some suggest that there are positive results between exercise and anxiety, whilst others suggest that there is no correlation between the two. it’s also hard to tell if these procedures have effective results as most of them say that they aren't reliable as others haven't gotten the same results from doing the same tests.

Practical adviceEdit

This research shows evidence for people with similar traits to the ones in the experiment that anxiety can be managed form the aid of exercise for an extended period of time from both light and high-intensity aerobic exercise. This makes it a practical measure for people with anxiety to control symptoms in an inexpensive way as there are also devices to help determine the desired work rate. Readers should be aware that participants in this experiment were picked if they had specific criteria that the researchers were looking for and these results may not work for everyone as this experiment hasn’t yet to be proven reliable. The participants also in this experiment didn't have any other physical disabilities or impairments so it's important to talk to a GP before commencing exercising. Further reading into Professor Joshua Broman-Fulks may be interesting as he does a lot of research into anxiety disorders. If you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety or you’re interested in the topic, please visit beyond blue for further information of the top or visit your local GP. [5]


  1. 1. Jump up↑ Kaushadh Jayakody, Shalmini Gunadasa, Christian Hosker. Exercise for Anxiety Disorders: systematic review. Internet. bjsports. 2012
  2. Joshua J Broman-Fulks, Effects of aerobic exercise on anxiety sensitivity, Elsevier, 2005
  3. Joshua J Broman-Fulks, Research Interests, Appalachian State University, https://psych.appstate.edu/faculty-staff/joshua-broman-fulks
  4. Beth McColl, I have depression and anxiety please stop telling me to 'go for a run', SELF, 2018. https://www.self.com/story/melanie-griffith-bandaged-selfie-dermabrasion-skin-cancer-treatment
  5. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/national-help-lines-and-websites