Moderate and strenuous exercise can alleviate symptoms of anxiety, even when the disorder is chronic, according to a study led by researchers from the University of Gothenburg.

Previous studies of physical exercise in depression have shown clear improvements. However, a clear picture of how people with anxiety are affected by exercise has been lacking up to now. The present study is one of the largest to date.

It provides yet further evidence for the whole-body benefits of exercise, including for the mind, and should hopefully convince more people to get up and get moving if they want to feel good about themselves.

Anxiety: exercise may be the answer

The study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, focused on 286 patients with anxiety syndrome who had been recruited from primary care services in Gothenburg and the northern part of Halland County. Half of the patients had lived with anxiety for at least ten years. Their average age was 39 years, and 70 percent were women.

Participants were randomly assigned to group exercise sessions, either moderate or strenuous, for 12 weeks. Participants had no knowledge of the physical training or counseling people outside their own group were receiving.

The results show that the exercisers’ anxiety symptoms were significantly alleviated even when the anxiety was chronic, compared with a control group which received advice on physical activity according to public-health recommendations.

Most individuals in the treatment groups went from a baseline level of moderate to high anxiety to a low anxiety level after the 12-week program.

For those who exercised at a lower intensity, the chance of improvement in terms of anxiety symptoms rose by a factor of 3.62. While for those who exercised at higher intensity the factor was 4.88.

“There was a significant intensity trend for improvement — that is, the more intensely they exercised, the more their anxiety symptoms improved,” states Malin Henriksson, doctoral student at Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, and the study’s first author.

Both treatment groups had one-hour training sessions three times a week, under the guidance of a physical therapist. The sessions included both cardio (aerobic) and strength training.

Members of the group that exercised at a moderate level were intended to reach about 60% of their maximum heart rate, which was rated as light or moderate exertion. In the group that trained more intensely, the aim was to attain 75% of maximum heart rate.

The levels were regularly checked using the Borg scale, a popular rating scale for perceived physical exertion, and confirmed using heart-rate monitors.

Reducing consumption of vegetable oil can alleviate symptoms of migraine

vegetable oil

Reducing consumption of vegetable oil and replacing it with fatty fish can help migraine sufferers reduce their monthly number of headaches and the intensity of the pain they experience, according to a new study.

The study builds on previous research that showed vegetable oil can increase inflammation within the body, and also seems to chime with research into the neurodegenerative effects of soybean oil, which we reported on recently. The findings about the effects of soybean-oil consumption are particularly worrying, since the oil is the most widely consumed in the US, by some margin.

Migraine is a neurological disease and ranks among the most common causes of chronic pain, lost work time, and lowered quality of life worldwide. Across the world, more than 4 million people have chronic migraine (at least 15 migraine days per month) and over 90% of sufferers are unable to work or function normally during an attack, which can last anywhere from four hours to three days.

Women between the ages of 18 and 44 are especially prone to migraines, with an estimated 18% of all American women being affected. Current medications for migraine usually offer only partial relief and can have negative side effects including sedation, as well as the possibility of addiction.


“Doctors in primary care need treatments that are individualized, have few side effects, and are easy to prescribe. The model involving 12 weeks of physical training, regardless of intensity, represents an effective treatment that should be made available in primary health care more often for people with anxiety issues,” says Maria Åberg, one of the study authors.

The most common treatments for anxiety are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotropic drugs. However, there are a number of downsides to them: the drugs commonly have side effects, and patients with anxiety disorders frequently do not respond to therapy. Many sufferers also have to wait long periods of time for therapy, which can make the prognosis worse.

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