Regular exercise may help those who see their environments as threatening to feel less anxious.
Working out can make people feel more positive about our environment, thus helping us worry less about ambiguous situations.
Researchers looking into the correlation between perception of threat and exercise made the conclusion after conducting a study.
Working out can foster the perception of a more positive environment, helping lessen worries
They got 66 students to either stand still, walk or jog on a treadmill, and then watch an animation of a humanlike stick figure. The figure’s orientation was ambiguous, and could be perceived as walking away or toward the viewer.
Overall, the students in the study who walked or jogged were more likely to say the figure was walking away from them – that is, was less threatening – than the students who stood still on the treadmill.
This findings suggest that exercise could reduce anxiety by fostering the perception of a more positive environment, the researchers said.
Students who exercised viewed an ambiguous figure as less threatening in the new study. ‘You’re seeing this world as a little less threatening after exercise’, said study researcher Adam Heenan, a Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology at Queen’s University in Canada.
‘Immediately afterwards, not only will people feel better because of the physiological effects of these tasks, as well as the improved self-esteem, but they potentially could also be getting a protective benefit of not directing as much attention to processing worrying or anxiety-inducing things.
Heenan said the findings could have implications for people who suffer from anxiety. ‘If you’re anxious, you’re paying attention to more anxiety-inducing things, whether that’s external or internal’
He suggested most people would perceive the figure as walking toward them, because of so-called ‘facing-the-viewer’ bias, report LiveScience.
People may have evolved to view a silhouette in the distance as a potentially approaching threat that they should prepare to meet; if, instead, the figure was moving away, it wouldn’t matter.
This bias is amplified in socially anxious people, Heenan said. ‘If you’re anxious, you’re paying attention to more anxiety-inducing things, whether that’s external or internal,’ he said. This new finding suggests their facing-the-viewer bias was reduced, and they felt less threatened. It is consistent with previous notions that exercise reduces a person’s bias toward threatening faces.
Previous research has showed that people with anxiety tend to perceive dangers more acutely, and the world as more threatening, than their less-anxious peers.
‘Exercising and doing relaxation techniques are already known to be good for anxiety, but this shows there is another potential benefit, because if you’re perceiving the world as less threatening, that’s less stuff you have to deal with,’ Heenan said.
This article was not written by Sy Ndes, and can be found online at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2710644/Exercise-way-happiness-People-work-feel-anxious-not-just-waistlines-says-new-study.html#ixzz38zP32cR3