Purpose: One purpose was to test the hypothesis that anxiety reductions following exercise are caused by a "time out" from daily cares and worries, and the second purpose was to document the magnitude of the change in state anxiety after exercise in high trait anxious females.
Methods: Anxious women (N = 14) completed four randomly ordered conditions: Exercise Only, 20 min of cycling (40% of VO2peak) followed by 20 min of recovery; Study Only, 40 min of studying while sitting on a cycle ergometer; Exercise/Study, 20 min of cycling (40% of VO2peak) while studying followed by 20 min of studying while sitting on the cycle ergometer; and Control, sitting quietly on an ergometer for 40 min.
Results: State anxiety was assessed before and after each condition. State anxiety was reduced following the Exercise Only condition (mean raw change score +/- 95% confidence interval (CI) of 4.3 +/- 3.5; t = 2.3, P = 0.04, d = 0.52). The 95% CI did not include zero after adjusting for precondition anxiety scores (adjusted change +/- 95% CI of 3.3 +/- 3.2).
Conclusions: Because the reduction in state anxiety following exercise was blocked in the Exercise/Study condition (t = -0.05, P = 0.97, d = 0.01) and the associated CIs included zero (unadjusted 0.1 +/- 3.4, adjusted 0.8 +/- 3.2), the findings support the hypothesis that anxiety reductions following exercise occur because exercise affords individuals a time out from daily worries.