Management of chronicle anxiety and physical activity

“So far, anxiety has been discussed as a sports-related phenomenon, but anxiety disorders can also take on a psychopathological dimension, and the traditional treatment used is drug therapy and cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy. Nevertheless, recently physical activity and particularly aerobic exercise has been studied as a specific treatment for treating anxiety disorders. The efficacy of this motor practice is well recognized for the positive effects produced on physical health, from improved cardiorespiratory fitness, to reduction of blood pressure and body fat, as well as reduction of cognitive disorders and improved well-being. A review on this topic [de Souza Moura et al., 2015] highlighted that 91 percent of the studies that investigated the positive effect of exercise on anxiety symptoms showed significant results, while 9 percent of the studies, while not reducing symptoms, generally improved some physiological aspects, such as increased oxygen uptake and physical activity level. Regarding the methodology used in the exercise protocols, it was found that the results varied according to the different experimental approaches the researchers used. The studies are not homogeneous in terms of volume, intensity and days of activity per week, thus making it impossible to provide general guidelines. However, aerobic exercise in addition to other psychological and pharmacological therapies has been observed to be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms, but the best amount and type of activity to be performed has not yet been identified.

However, there appear to be five lifestyle habits that are key to promoting well-being and longer life expectancy [Li et al., 2018]. The greater their development, the greater the likelihood of the to live well and longer, they can be summarized as follows:

  • A healthy diet, calculated and evaluated on the basis of a diet primarily based on vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids, and aimed at avoiding less healthy or unhealthy foods such as red and processed meats, sugary drinks, trans fats and excess sodium.
  • An adequate level of physical activity, measured as at least 30 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous activity, such as brisk walking.
  • A healthy body weight, defined by a normal body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9.
  • No smoking, as there is no healthy amount of smoking.
  • Reduced alcohol intake, measured between 5 and 15 grams per day for women and between 5 and 30 grams per day for men. Generally, one glass contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol. That’s 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled alcohol (1 ounce equals 29.57 ml – 1 liter equals 1,000ml).

Those who possess even one of these habits are likely to live two years longer than those who have developed none. And those who at the age of 50 regularly practice these five appear to gain 10 more years of life in the absence of a predisposition to develop genetic diseases.

(Source: Alberto Cei, 2021)

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