Exercise, Yoga Can Help Alleviate Social Anxiety

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New research indicates that relaxation activities and exercising actually influence how people view the world, which could yield new approaches to treating those with anxiety disorders.

Researchers from Queens University in the United Kingdom used point light displays depicting a dotted outline of a human to examine how the perception of the figure among people with anxiety differed before and after participating in physical activity and relaxation techniques.

Point light displays are depth ambiguous. People with anxiety tend to view figures as facing toward them rather then away, the former being a more threatening stance.

“We wanted to examine whether people would perceive their environment as less threatening after engaging in physical exercise or after doing a relaxation technique that is similar to the breathing exercises in yoga (called progressive muscle relaxation),” Adam Heenan, a PhD candidate in clinical psychology at the university explained in a press release.

After exercising, patients with anxiety indicated that the figure appeared to be facing away, indicating they perceived their environment as less threatening, according to results published in PLOS One.

“We found that people who either walked or jogged on a treadmill for 10 minutes perceived these ambiguous figures as facing towards them (the observer) less often than those who simply stood on the treadmill,” Heenan said. “The same was true when people performed progressive muscle relaxation.”

Exercise And Yoga Can Help Alleviate Social Anxiety
Exercise And Yoga Can Help Alleviate Social Anxiety
A jog in the park or a session of yoga can change the way people view the world, and help ease anxiety. Researchers from Queen's University published their findings in PLOS One, which unlocked how exercise and relaxation activities, such as yoga, may actually change the way people perceive the world.
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