Let exercise into your life to help expel anxiety out of it
Updated: Mar 11
How to manage anxiety through exercise
In my last post, I discussed the secret to making meditation work to relieve the symptoms of anxiety. As my clients know, acupuncture for anxiety and insomnia can help you reach a more relaxed place. They also know that I believe in a holistic approach to health. This includes adopting healthy eating habits, and taking regular exercise.
In this post, you’ll learn why both Chinese and Western medical perspectives believe that exercise helps to manage anxiety.
Exercise is key to eliminating Liver Qi Stagnation
In Chinese medicine, anxiety is often associated with Liver Qi Stagnation. The liver is considered to have more functions than in Western medicine. For example, it is responsible for the free flow of Qi (pronounced ‘chee’).
When Qi stops flowing, the physical and emotional wellbeing of a person gets stuck. Uncomfortable thoughts or emotions creep in, and this is the beginning of anxiety. As Liver Qi Stagnation continues, the frequency and acuteness of these anxious feelings increase. By ensuring there is a free flow of Qi, a person is better able to find ways to resolve their anxious thoughts and feelings.
One way to help the liver is through exercise. Movement and breath keep the Qi flowing, helping you to cope with anxiety.
Exercise positively impacts frame of mind
Western medicine also recognises the benefits of exercise on mental wellbeing. Various studies have concluded that physical activity increases mental alertness and physical and mental energy, and produces emotional positivity. It helps to increase self-esteem, and aids the prevention of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
What exercise is best for your mental health?
A 2005 study by Penedo, F.J. and Dahn, J.R. found that people felt more content, awake, and calmer after periods of physical activity compared to inactivity. In 2009, Reed and Buck studied the effect of aerobic exercise, and found that 30 to 35 minutes of aerobic exercise, 3 to 5 days each week for 10 to 12 weeks was best at increasing positive moods.
A case study in emotional and physical wellbeing through exercise
I’ve met many people who have led stressful lives, and suffered from anxious feelings.
Michael is one of these. By the time he had reached 45 years old, Michael had suffered three heart attacks. His standing heart rate was 106 beats per minute, and he suffered with hypertension. He was diagnosed with a condition that makes him susceptible to heart attacks when coming down from peak exercise.
As part of his health routine, Michael walks five miles four or five times a week. He started slowly, but now walks at a steady four miles per hour. Without the aid of medication, his standing heart rate has reduced to 88 bpm and his blood pressure reading is now in the normal band. He swears that mild physical exercise has been a major aid to his mental and physical wellbeing. He told me: “After walking, being in the open air, and at one with nature, I feel more relaxed, less stressed, and more able to cope with whatever the day throws at me. I’m convinced that this better mental health has contributed directly to better physical health, and vice versa.”
What exercise is best for you?
You don’t have to spend hours in the gym or running to gain the benefits of exercise. Anything that involves movement and breathing counts. You might consider dance classes, martial arts, sports such as tennis or rowing, and so on.
As Michael’s experience shows, slower forms of exercise also have positive benefits for anxiety and stress. You might also take up Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Yoga, or Pilates.
Try different exercise routines. Start slow, and build up a little more each day or week. Find the exercise you enjoy, and embrace it. You’ll find that you:
· Feel better about yourself
· Are more able to deal with life’s ups and downs
· Become better connected to your community
· Gain control over your life
· Have a sense of purpose you had forgotten existed
You don’t have to suffer from stress and anxiety. Get in touch with me now, and let’s work together to destress your life.
Live life to the fullest