While it is true that the help of a professional in psychology and the support of your loved ones is essential to overcome things like anxiety, there are some options that we have at our fingertips that can make the road smoother. One of these things is sport, which once again can and should be part of a treatment focused on managing stress and anxiety.
In this article we explain how sport can help you fight anxiety due to its physiological effects.
Effects that sport has on the physiological level
Our body is affected by anything we do or anything we expose ourselves to, whether it’s cold, heat, hunger, sleep or yes, also, physical exercise.
Without going too deep, the processes related to anxiety (and stress) involve several hormones in charge of managing the body’s response: catecholamines, sex hormones, glucocorticoids….
This bodily response depends to a large extent on how we psychologically identify a situation as a threat. This can provoke a series of symptoms ranging from headaches to hyperventilation or arrhythmias.
Having said all of the above you may be wondering how sport fits into the control of anxiety since in itself can be considered as another stressor, at least for our body.
We could say that sport can be made to fit within the physiological response that provokes anxiety: mobilization of energy, muscle contraction or increased heart rate.
In addition, in response to physical exercise we secrete a series of hormones and neurotransmitters that can counteract, at least in part, the effects produced by the previous hormones we have mentioned. We are talking about endorphins, which are able to reduce stress and anxiety levels significantly.
In this way, exercise can be an immediate response to the effects of anxiety, but not only in the short term but also in the medium and long term, as our body adapts over time to the production and management of the hormones we have mentioned.
Effects that sport has on the psychological level
We cannot forget that sport is more than a physiological response induced by hormones and neurotransmitters. How sport is experienced depends very much on the value that the person gives it, either by reinforcements that have been built from the beginning or by sociological issues. In this sense, the practice of sport can be an anchor in the daily life of a person suffering from anxiety. It can become a space for self-care and even socialization with other people.
The sport can be inserted into the person’s daily life and help to build routines that help with the feeling of blockage and not progressing that produces anxiety. A workout routine set by another person can help not to think too much about the performance and therefore to perform the task without too much mental effort.