In a study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, Swedish researchers found that regular physical activity can significantly reduce the risk of developing anxiety.
The research compared a long-distance cross-country ski race from the late 1980s, 1900s, and 2000s. As per the data, nearly 400 thousand people participated in the study.
“We used an observational study design to follow 395,369 individuals for up to 21 years to investigate if participation in an ultralong-distance cross-country ski race was associated with a lower risk of developing anxiety,” the paper emphasized.
“Skiers in the race and matched non-skiers from the general population were studied after participation in the race using the Swedish population and patient registries.”
After a 21-year follow-up, researchers found that the group of participants with an apparently more active physical lifestyle had a nearly 60 percent lower risk of anxiety disorders.
Here’s what the authors concluded: “Our results support the recommendations of engaging in physical activity to decrease the risk of anxiety in both men and women. The impact of physical performance level on the risk of anxiety requires further investigations among women.”
As the paper determined, physical exercise can enhance not just physical health but also psychological health. It is one of the major factors involved in maintaining health, as discussed in a piece published in 2021. Here’s an excerpt from the story:
How to Maintain Psychological Health
Stay physically active: Estimates from world population studies have suggested that more than a quarter of the world’s adult population is not active enough in their daily lives. Leading health organizations have found that up to 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men do not get enough physical activity to stay healthy.
Staying physically fit not only helps reduce the risk of physical health problems, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, but it also reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. Recent studies in medical journals have even hypothesized that a persistent exercise routine can improve cognition skills such as thinking, memory, and learning in both young and old adults. But its effects, however, are more important for improving general well-being.
Experts recommend light-to-moderate aerobic exercise each week, with only 30 minutes a day of feasible duration. Walking, biking, yoga, and sports are examples of physical activities that can reduce the risk of disease and promote healthier well-being. In addition to staying fit, having a good nutrition plan can help with the beneficial effects derived from implementing a new exercise routine.
Practice resilience: Resilience is the ability to adapt in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, and severe stress. Many empirical studies in scientific journals have attributed low resilience to the development of negative well-being such as depression and anxiety.
Building resilience can be an effective approach to improving well-being and life satisfaction. Maintaining a healthy level of resilience begins by developing and executing healthy emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial, occupational, and social habits.
The most effective ways to build resilience include making lifestyle changes, taking a break during times of exhaustion, building a social support network, and taking care of your physical health. Having great resilience can also promote a positive self-image and self-esteem among teens and adults.
Get sufficient sleep: Sleep is vital to maintaining optimal physical and mental health. Lack of sleep is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Its psychological implications include fatigue, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Increasing the duration and quality of sleep to sufficient levels can increase productivity and concentration during the day. It can also reduce the risk of weight gain, as well as increase social and emotional intelligence. In addition, it can help prevent the development of affective disorders.
The world’s leading health organizations and institutions recommend at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a day for adults. Strategies for getting enough sleep include going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, getting similar sleep hours on weekends as during the week, using bedtime solely to relax, turning off bright artificial light earlier in the evening, and avoiding any large meals a few hours before bedtime.
Spend quality time with family: For many people, spending time alone is crucial for creativity and inspiration, but spending quality time with friends and family is just as important.
Studies in academic journals have found that spending time with friends and family can increase happiness and well-being. Humans are social animals by nature, and survival involves companionship with others.
Spending time with your loved ones can help you cope with stress. It can also have substantial effects on your physical and mental health. Recent studies have even suggested that strong social relationships can lead to a longer, healthier lifespan.
Lower alcohol consumption: While some studies have raised the idea that light alcohol consumption, such as wine, can lead to positive physical and mental health outcomes, many still argue against alcohol consumption.
Drinking alcohol regularly can affect brain chemicals that are responsible for maintaining good mental well-being. Since the potential risks outweigh the benefits when it comes to consuming alcohol, it may be best to avoid drinking alcohol altogether.
For people with an established drinking habit, approaches to help curb the habit include guarding against temptation, asking for support, setting a drinking goal, and becoming persistent and resilient.