Exercise and Anxiety

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2020:1228:345-352. doi: 10.1007/978-981-15-1792-1_23.


Anxiety disorders are a group of highly prevalent mental health conditions that can have a debilitating impact on daily functioning and well-being. They can co-occur with other mental health disorders, such as depression. People with anxiety disorders are also at an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease and premature mortality. Physical activity appears to be protective against anxiety disorders in clinical and nonclinical populations. Exercise, a subset of physical activity, has been shown to significantly reduce the symptoms of anxiety. The mechanisms through which exercise produces these effects are likely to involve a combination of biological and psychological factors. Physical activity may also be useful in reducing the symptoms of comorbid mental health conditions and the risk of physical health complications over time. Promoting physical activity could be a method of preventing or treating anxiety disorders with a wide range of benefits. However, further research will be necessary to address important gaps in the literature before these approaches can be fully implemented in mental health services.

Keywords: Anxiety; Depression; Exercise; Physical activity; Stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders* / complications
  • Anxiety Disorders* / prevention & control
  • Anxiety Disorders* / therapy
  • Anxiety* / complications
  • Anxiety* / prevention & control
  • Anxiety* / therapy
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / prevention & control
  • Depression / therapy
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health