Wider Reach Than Drugs
Researchers at Southern Methodist University analyzed numerous studies to determine that exercise is a magic drug for treating anxiety and depression. Exercise is inexpensive, easily achievable and may be better than drugs or behavior therapy. "Exercise appears to affect, like an antidepressant, particular neurotransmitter systems in the brain, and it helps patients with depression re-establish positive behaviors. For patients with anxiety disorders, exercise reduces their fears of fear and related bodily sensations such as a racing heart and rapid breathing," says Jasper Smits, director of the Anxiety Research and Treatment Program at SMU. Researchers say that health care providers should tell patients of the immediate benefits of exercise and not focus on the long term for best success.