Many studies have been done to examine the relationship between physical activity as a form of treatment and relapse prevention in anxiety and depression. General advice for managing life when living with these disorders includes encouragement to spend some portion of the day in physical activity. Exercise is not always suggested as a requirement, with much advice emphasizing that any kind of physical activity is better than none. However, little empirical data has backed that up. According to a new study, discussed by Big Think, not all physical activity is created equal when it comes to the effect on anxiety and depression. A lack of intentional exercise has the greatest association with anxiety and depression. Meaning, those who live with anxiety and depression are more likely to skip exercise and move around less. Consequently, their symptoms do not receive the relief that exercise offers.
The study separated physical activity into three main categories in order to measure their effectiveness and interaction with anxious or depressive thinking. First, according to the article, was “sports” to indicate intentional exercise. Second was “general physical activity” to indicate the basic movements completed throughout the day, like getting out of bed, walking around the house, and moving the body in order to function. Lastly was “sedentary behavior” indicating the lack of movement during times spent sitting or lying down.
2,981 adults with anxiety and depressive disorders, as well as healthy adults, between the ages of 18 and 65 were studied. The study found that people who struggle with anxiety and depressive disorders exercise less than people who do not struggle with anxiety and depressive disorders. Even during daily “general physical activity”, those with anxiety and depression move less than those without the disorders. Of the three activity categories created by the researchers, it was the lack of exercise with had the greatest association with severe symptoms. Citing the study, the article explains that the researchers conclusively found, “Over time, there seems to be a mutually reinforcing, bidirectional relationship between psychopathology and lower physical activity, particularly low sports participation. People with anxiety are as adversely affected as those with depression.”
As part of our integrative approach to co-occurring disorder treatment at Cottonwood Tucson, we place an emphasis on diet and exercise. Throughout each week of treatment, our clients engage in different kinds of physical activities and exercise. Working with a behavioral health nutritionist, our clients also learn to balance their diets for mental health wellness. Internationally renown, our behavioral health treatment programs provide healing and hope. For information, call us today by dialing (800) 877-4520.