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  • A Shameless Plug for Exercise

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    Old 01-05-2009, 07:44 PM   #1
    happyturkey's Avatar
    Join Date: Jan 2009
    Location: Baltimore, MD, USA
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    happyturkey HB User
    Talking A Shameless Plug for Exercise

    This might work for some of you and not others and it largely depends, from what I understand, on the source of your anxiety problems. However, I thought I might share this tip as it has worked tremendously well for me. A daily exercise regimen has dramatically reduced my anxiety symptoms and left me with a bunch of other bonuses too. Details follow; skip to the bottom for a summary.

    My anxiety difficulties seemed to be sourced from a combination of post-traumatic stress and a highly exhausting job. I won't go into huge details about the PTSD, as they are not hugely relevant to my case; I simply bring it up to emphasize that my particular flavor of anxiety problems is largely psychologically triggered and not, for example, a result of genetics or medication side effects. The job involved a high-paced environment, a lot of travel (two plane trips a week), typically 60-70 hour work weeks (before adding in commuting time), and very little physical activity. I had two panic attacks as a result of this situation before I managed to start getting a grip on it.

    Due to the panic attacks (one of the most miserable experiences I've ever had), my employers saw fit to relax the travel burden and I was able to work from home on alternating weeks; this helped with the new plan quite a lot. After doing some reading and so on, I began to exercise for about twenty minutes a day, drawing on my memories of high school activities to provide me with cardio-intensive exercise. The exercise itself was rather awful for about a month (I'd have to sit and rest for about forty minutes after a twenty minute routine due to being so out of shape), but getting my heart rate up helped tremendously.

    I should say that, in my case, this worked as an alternative to medication; I chose not to fill the prescription I received from my physician and try the exercise routine first. Of course, it would be a bad idea to stop an existing medication regimen without instructions from a doctor, but as I hadn't started any such thing yet I thought I'd give it a shot. It turned out beautifully. I haven't had a panic attack for nine months and, to boot, I'm in better physical condition than I have been for years. (The value of this can't be stressed enough; I need less sleep, I have more energy, and I'm a generally happier person.)

    Of course, this isn't a total success. Due to being ill, I haven't been able to exercise for the last three days or so. Whenever I miss a couple days, I notice familiar sensations, such as that nagging feeling that my body's about to fail me or that preoccupation with nasty insecurities. However, since they're starting new and fresh, I have a better perspective and it's easier to shrug them off... and it serves as good motivation to keep up the exercise whenever I can.

    In summary, exercise worked great for me. I spend about 30 minutes a day total between getting ready for the exercise and actually doing it; in return, I get rid of the anxiety symptoms and get a bunch of other perks along with it. I call that a pretty good deal. So if you're just starting out on your recovery or looking for something to try in addition to what you have, I strongly recommend it. Best of luck!

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