Lifting weights makes your muscles stronger; it may also make you feel less anxious. Can you really lift worry off your shoulders as you do your weight-lifting routine?
Studies Show Weight-Lifting Helps Lift Worry and Anxiety:
An analysis of 16 previous studies found that people randomly assigned to do resistance training had less anxiety than those assigned to do no exercise. Both men and women benefited equally. Healthy people were able to lift worry more than those previously diagnosed with a mental illness such as chronic anxiety. Nonetheless, even anxious people got a boost.
Most studies on the mental health benefits of exercise have focused on aerobic activity. This study shows that resistance exercise also can improve mental health. In the studies, the subjects lifted weights two to five days a week for approximately three months. The researchers urge others to compare resistance training to standard treatments for anxiety.
Other Nondrug Approaches to Lift Worry and Anxiety:
Lifting weights is not the only nondrug treatment that shows promise for treating anxiety. A recent study in children showed that cognitive behavioral therapy may be a good option.
Anxiety can affect children as much as adults. It is estimated that anywhere from 15 to 20 percent of youngsters suffer from debilitating anxiety. When children are treated with medicines used to treat psychiatric disorders in adults, however, they may not do well. What can be done to help kids with anxiety?
Ways to Help Kids with Anxiety:
A review of 15 studies that included more than 7,700 children found that SSRI-type antidepressant drugs like sertraline or fluoxetine worked better than placebo to alleviate symptoms. Benzodiazepine medications such as alprazolam (Xanax) are the mainstay for treating anxiety in adults. However, such drugs did not work for kids with anxiety.
On the other hand, cognitive behavioral therapy was quite effective. It helped more than fluoxetine or sertraline did and, even better, there were no side effects. The investigators concluded that cognitive behavioral therapy is a viable treatment for childhood anxiety.