Exercise reduces anxiety

In the world of medical weight loss (Bariatrics), one of the most important factors to keeping off the pounds is physical activity.  Exercise of any type will do, including walking, aerobic activity, weight training, dancing, video sports, running, swimming or biking.  They all help with weight maintenance.

A new study in Journal Archives of Internal Medicine found another significant benefit to exercise: exercise reduces anxiety.  Why is this so important?  The most common treatment for anxiety is medications, many of which cause weight gain.  The group of SSRI medications, while effective in many cases of anxiety, commonly lead to weight gain of several pounds through a direct effect on the hypothalamus.  This area deep in the brain controls appetite.

Some details on the study:

Exercise of at least 3 weeks had a greater effect on anxiety symptoms.  The most effective exercises lasted at least 30 minutes, and benefits were seen for all types of exercise.

How can you get started with exercise?  Here are some tips:

  1. Start small. Set an easy to achieve goal, like walking 5 minutes per day.  Doesn’t seem like much, but you have got to start somewhere.
  2. Set a goal. For example, by next month, I want to be able to bike for 15 minutes, or walk 20 minutes, or maybe climb stairs without getting winded.
  3. As you get into better shape, keep pushing the intensity just a bit.

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