Cited in Yahoo Health – Can Exercise Help Cure Anxiety?

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 2.38.54 PMCan Exercise Help Cure Anxiety? by Korin Miller

Can exercise cure anxiety? You bet it can help! In this terrific post for Yahoo Health, author Korin Miller follows up “Girls” star Lena Dunham’s recent Instagram post advocating exercise to those like her suffering with anxiety, “it ain’t about the a**, it’s about the brain. Thank you”

Miller documents some of the current research on the helpful effects of exercise on anxiety, and I was pleased to discuss the benefits I see in my practice as well. Bottom line: stay moving!

“Exercise is one of the first things I talk about with people in my practice,” says licensed clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, PsyD, who specializes in the treatment of anxiety.

While it’s widely known that exercise is important for overall wellness, how does it help treat anxiety in particular? It helps increase our brain strength through the protein BDNF. “When our brain is stronger, we can handle our anxiety better and are better able to determine what is reasonable and what is unreasonable,” Clark tells Yahoo Health.

The other important connection between exercise and anxiety is its ability to target the physical aspects of stress. Some more severe forms of anxiety trigger a protective physiological response, also known as the fight or flight response, Clark explains. That response can create extra energy in your body that can convert to a buildup of energy in your muscles and an increased heart rate, which then leads to an agitated feeling. Regular exercise can help anxiety sufferers burn off that energy buildup before it leads to that agitated feeling.

While exercise is a powerful tool for anxiety sufferers, and may minimize the odds that people will develop anxiety, Clark says it still works best for some people when combined with medication. (In her Instagram post, Dunham said she’s one of them.)

Research backs it up: Whether you suffer from anxiety or are just going through a stressful time, it’s better to work out than not.

To read the full post, click here.


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Alicia H. Clark, PsyD