Wellbeing & Motivation > How Exercise Can Help With Anxiety & Depression

How Exercise Can Help With Anxiety & Depression

14th Aug 19

Exercise has more benefits than most people know about. It has positives on every level, from the microscopic and neurological impacts to the physical effects on your body. One of these many positives comes from the relationship between exercise and anxiety.

Exercising can be a great way to help manage and control the effects of anxiety and depression in many people, and it’s a great thing to try and do if it’s something that works for you. It’s not definitive like ‘this is going to stop anxiety’, but it can be incredibly effective for managing and reducing it.

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How Exercising Can Help

Exercise can be very much trial and error with how it can help. What works for one person might not necessarily be best for you, and Vice Versa. The key is to keep trying different exercises until you find the one that suits you and if it helps in the long run.

Looking further into things, though, and in more depth, there’s a more detailed explanation too.


serotonin chemical make-up

First and foremost are endorphins. Exercise releases hormones called endorphins, which are your body’s version of pain relief. Regular exercise, therefore, can help relieve feelings of depression or anxiety, increasing levels of positivity and keeping you more energised as a result. Amazing right? Other neurotransmitters are also released during exercise, which helps keep these feelings up, but this is the main player.


These effects are more than just chemicals too! Exercising is an effective way to boost confidence. You’re improving your body and your mindset at the same time, and more often than not, that reflects both in and out.

These are big factors in reducing anxiety and depression in the long and the short term. Attitude is more than just your opinions; after all, feeling good is definitely an influencer to exercise with anxiety.

Staying Healthy

So this one seems a little obvious, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. As you’re putting in the effort to be a healthier person through your training, you may also notice something else. You may well find that to make the most of your work in your training, you try and be healthier outside of it too. That’s another awesome to manage anxiety with exercise.

Along with exercising, maintaining a healthy diet can also help combat depression and anxiety. By consuming the right foods, your body will steadily release energy which will have a positive impact on your mood, reducing negative feelings, but that’s another topic. It is still worth noting as a byproduct of exercising with anxiety and the positive impact it can have though.

Exercise Plan

person exercising in a gym with a shiver bar

Once you know how exercising can help with anxiety, it’s important to know what to do. No one is saying you need to run a marathon to feel better because that’s not the case. Getting started is the key, however.

Make Changes

How much exercise you do depends on you, but aim to do three 30-minute workouts per week. Making a few adjustments to your day-to-day activity can have a huge impact on your well-being.

For example, walk to your local shop instead of driving. If you take public transport to work, get off at the stop before and walk the rest of the way. Make a conscious decision to set time aside on a weekly basis for exercising. If you immerse yourself into a healthy routine and, more importantly, make some ‘you time’.

Set Goals

Once you’ve settled into an exercise routine, begin setting realistic health and fitness goals. Having something positive to work towards will keep you focused, and it’ll be rewarding too. Personal achievement is a great way to build confidence and boost vitality.

Whether you’re a beginner or experienced, design your workout plan around exercises you enjoy and don’t be afraid to try new things out. You might find yourself enjoying an exercise that you never imagined you would.


The most important thing to factor into your workout plan is maintaining the ‘I can’ attitude. Never doubt yourself; if you struggle to lift weights, try again tomorrow.

If you’re still struggling, lower the weight and set yourself achievable goals. Not being able to achieve something that shouldn’t be regarded as a failure should make you more determined, and it adds some excitement to your routine.

Exercise with a friend. Having support when exercising is an effective way to stay motivated and encourage self-belief. Plus, it makes it fun.

The important thing to remember is that exercise isn’t a chore. It should be something you want to do, not something you have to do. Work with medical and fitness professionals to design a personal fitness plan with achievable goals.

It is a proven idea that exercise can help with anxiety and depression. It won’t ‘cure’ it, but it can be a good management system. Try it for yourself and see what you think. Don’t make it life or death, but making little healthy changes to your life is good for both physical and mental health.

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Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.