Reduction of Tension and Anxiety
Anxiety levels in both normal and anxious people are reduced after vigorous exercise in both the laboratory and out of doors (Bahrke & Morgan, 1981). Chronic exercise (training) also decreases anxiety levels (Topp, 1989), and trained persons have lower levels of anxiety than nonexercisers (Nuori & Beer, 1989; Stephens, 1988). Running has been used in the management of those with
Severe anxieties (Berger, 1984). Other diversional activities such as biofeedback, meditation, or just quiet rest are apparently equally effective (Bahrke & Morgan,
1981), but I have found that exercise has a specific effect on my anxiety that is not achieved in any other way. In addition, the anxiolytic effect of exercise may last longer than that produced by other methods (Raglin & Morgan, 1987).
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When compared to a single dose of tranquilizer, a single exercise bout (15 minutes walking at a heart rate of 100 beats/min) has a significantly greater effect on resting muscle tension. De Vries (1981) concluded that exercise has a substantial acute and long-term tranquilizing effect. Runners also exhibit less anxiety about death than do nonrunners (Guyot et al, 1984).
Jogging has proved to be an effective adjunct in the treatment of depression and may be at least as effective as, and considerably cheaper than, conventional drug therapy in cases of mild depression (Berger, 1984; Buffone, 1984; Griest et al, 1981; Kostrubala, 1984; Martinsen et al, 1985; McCann & Holmes, 1984). Cross-sectional studies show that depressive symptoms decrease with increasing levels of physical activity (Farmer et al, 1988; Ross & Hayes, 1988; Stephens, 1988). Farmer et al, (1988) suggest that physical inactivity may be a risk factor for depressive symptoms.
Quality of Life
University students who participated in a 15-week jogging program showed significant increases in their reported quality of life, whereas a control group showed no such change (A.E. Morris & Husman, 1978). Female long-distance runners also scored higher on this scale than did college students and nonrunners (A.F. Morris etal, 1982).
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