Why is Fitness so important?
There are a variety of ways to combat anxiety and one of the biggest ways is through physical fitness. Why is it so important? First off, keeping physically fit is great for the mind. It releases endorphins that work to boost your mood and fight the effects of lower serotonin levels. When you are anxious or depressed, it is likely that you have a serotonin deficiency. Think of serotonin as the happy hormone in your brain. Releasing endorphins through exercise is a great way to counteract that serotonin deficiency.
Additionally, many people experience feeling happier with themselves when working out. Working out boosts your mood because you feel stronger, maybe more beautiful and accomplished. Personally, when I work out I feel more productive with my day and that in turn improves my overall mood. Even a 30 minute workout can make me feel accomplished and ready to take on the day.
The biggest reason fitness is so important for me is because of the burned adrenaline. Cardio workouts burn through excess adrenaline that are sometimes associated with anxiety disorders. If you seem to feel on edge a lot and as though you’re jittery, but still exhausted from being anxious constantly, it’s possible you have heightened levels of adrenaline. Thirty minutes a day of cardio will help burn through the excess adrenaline and believe it or not, it will also help you feel more energetic.
Adrenaline & Anxiety
Until recently, I believed the main source of my anxiety was genetic. My dad has always had anxiety, so we just assumed I inherited it from him. After various heart tests from my cardiologist I was diagnosed with a second heart defect, mitral valve prolapse. The short of it is one of my valves doesn’t always close properly. For the most part this is a functioning disorder and I can go about my life without surgery or treatment. The most noticeable side effect for me is the anxiety.
With mitral valve prolapse comes heightened levels of adrenaline, which in turn can manifest as anxiety, not to mention the anxiety that comes with the pain associated with the disorder. The pain is difficult to get rid of without medication, however, the adrenaline can be managed with cardio workouts. I try to do some form of cardio at least 5 days per week and usually do at least 30 minutes of cardio at a time.
If I keep my routine consistent, my anxiety does lessen. It is important to note that cardio alone doesn’t get rid of my anxiety, but it does help. I have noticed that cardio is most effective in combating my anxiety when I do it in the mornings. This is a great way to jump start the day and it also helps with energy. Working out right away in the morning will increase your energy throughout the day.
Fitness & Sleep
Sleep is key when dealing with anxiety and for so many it is difficult to achieve quality sleep. Anxieties and thoughts can bombard you while you’re supposed to be sleeping and make the night restless. This is problematic for anyone dealing with anxiety because sleep allows you to recharge and take on the next day with more energy. Anxiety is a huge drain on your energy source and coffee can often cause more anxiety, so getting a good night’s sleep is always your best bet.
The more physically active you are, the easier sleep with come. Engaging in physical activity will work to tire out the body and help you reach deep sleep faster and longer. Being physically tired won’t necessarily help you fall asleep quickly, but once you are asleep, it will be much easier to stay that way.