For those of us living with chronic anxiety, the mental, emotional, and physical symptoms can be totally debilitating. We know that things like adequate hydration, a healthy diet, regular meditation, and consistent sleep patterns all contribute to our mental and physical health. And we also know exercise can play a massive role. It releases endorphins, promotes a more positive mood, and, according to a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, can even prevent us from experiencing future anxiety. (Yep, we'll take it. Positive mental health effects are the ultimate motivation to head to our weekly yoga class or lace up our running shoes.)
According to MindBodyGreen, though, different forms of exercise can have different degrees of impact on alleviating anxiety. The site spoke to a neurologist to determine the most effective one, and it's not what we expected. Drumroll, please… The most effective workout for combatting anxiety is none other than the well-known Latin American dance class Zumba. According to neurologist Ilene Ruhoy, that's thanks to a combination of the energetic atmosphere, music, and people. "The music, the moves, the community—the combination is really unparalleled," says Ruhoy. "It makes the body and mind feel good, and contributes to a sense of belonging to a larger group of people with similar interests."
In other words, it's not just the physical activity that's doing your mind and body good—it's also the social aspect that boosts your mood and promotes better mental health. Other top contenders include workouts like kickboxing, Pilates, tai chi, and, yes, yoga. The last two in particular improve the mind-body connection (much like mediation does), which can effectively decrease anxiety over time.