Effects of a Single Bout of Aerobic Exercise Versus Resistance Training on Cognitive Vulnerabilities for Anxiety Disorders

Cogn Behav Ther. 2015;44(4):240-51. doi: 10.1080/16506073.2015.1020448. Epub 2015 Mar 19.


The purpose of this study was to compare the relative effects of a single bout of aerobic exercise versus resistance training on cognitive vulnerabilities for anxiety disorders. Seventy-seven participants (60% female; 84% Caucasian) were randomized to complete 20 min of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, resistance training, or rest, followed by a 35% CO2/65% O2 inhalation challenge task. Results indicated that aerobic exercise and resistance training were significantly and equally effective in reducing anxiety sensitivity (AS) compared with rest ((η(2)(p ) = 52), though only aerobic exercise significantly attenuated reactivity to the CO2 challenge task. Neither form of exercise generated observable effects on distress tolerance, discomfort intolerance, or state anxiety (all ps >.10). The results of this study are discussed with regard to their implications for the use of exercise interventions for anxiety and related forms of psychopathology, and potential directions for future research are discussed.

Keywords: anxiety; carbon dioxide; discomfort; distress; exercise; tolerance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Carbon Dioxide / pharmacology
  • Cognition* / drug effects
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychological Tests
  • Resistance Training*
  • Young Adult


  • Carbon Dioxide