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The greatest anti-anxiety drug is not a drug! How Using Exercise For Anxiety Treatment Can Help


Exercise For Anxiety Treatment

When you are struggling with anxiety, the last thing you probably want to do is exercise. It’s just one more thing on a list of what can overwhelm you. We all know the benefits of anti-anxiety drugs, but did you know that working out is often just as powerful of a remedy, and without any side effects? Yes, you heard that right. Exercise is actually one of the most powerful tools you can use to combat anxiety, both in the short and the long term. Keep reading to learn how exercise for anxiety treatment works.

The Science Behind Exercise For Anxiety Treatment

There are many scientifically backed and proven reasons why exercising is perhaps the greatest way to relieve anxiety.

When your body is moving and active, even for only 10 minutes, your body begins to release feel-good endorphins to your body. Endorphins are chemical messengers that send signals to your brain and body to relieve pain and stress. While your heart rate may increase with physical activity, these endorphins are working to decrease the overall stress that you feel from anxiety.

Another benefit of using exercise for anxiety treatment, according to Healthline, is that physical activity releases the chemicals of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. All three of these chemicals are crucial when it comes to helping your mood become more stable.


During exercise, your adrenal glands (two glands above your kidneys) and your brain, increase the production of norepinephrine, a hormone, and brain chemical. As this chemical reaches your bloodstream, it helps you to become more alert and focused and aids in strengthening your memory. This helps you to stay focused long after your workout is over.


Dopamine is known as the motivation brain chemical. After you exercise, you will likely find that you feel more motivated and focused to get the rest of your tasks done. And the good news here is that once you start your exercise for anxiety treatment routine, the dopamine your brain produces after exercising will help you continue to keep exercising. The motivation comes after you start moving, so even if you don’t feel like it at first, try to get moving anyway. Before you know it, you will actually want to move AND your anxiety will start to go down.


People who battle anxiety often find themselves on anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications. One of the most common chemicals these drugs influence is serotonin. People with conditions such as anxiety and depression are often low in it. Serotonin is the natural chemical our bodies produce that is directly related to mood enhancements.. Interestingly, exercise is a natural serotonin booster that only requires moving your body.

Short Term Benefits Of Using Exercise For Anxiety Treatment

You wake up in the morning and are already anxious. Just thinking about the laundry list of what you have to do that day is overwhelming. Or maybe there’s nothing going on yet you still feel incredibly anxious. There are many things you can do in the morning that can help not only to relieve the anxiety now but help you stay focused throughout the day. One of these is, of course, a short workout.

Even something as simple as a short 10 minute walk inside or a brief yoga session can help you relieve anxiety in the short term. It releases the chemicals we talked about earlier, but it also burns some very negative ones off, as well. Anytime you exercise, it helps to burn off the stress hormones of adrenaline and cortisol, states a source at Harvard University. Having high levels of both of these chemicals is widely attributed to be a leading cause of high anxiety levels.

Long Term Benefits of Using Exercise For Anxiety Treatment

Not only will exercising help you increase serotonin at the moment, but can increase the amount your body produces of this important chemical. Regular exercise helps improve your appetite, helps you sleep better, and balances your mood more regularly.

The more often you exercise , you’ll also reduce your overall levels of adrenaline and cortisol in the body over time.

Need Some Inspiration On Where To Start Using Exercise For Anxiety Treatment

You don’t have to buy a pricy membership to a gym to begin reaping the benefits of exercise for your mental health. Here are a few ideas to get you started using exercise for anxiety treatment:

  • Walking
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Dancing
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Running

Exercising is a great thing to do for your overall health and especially for your mental health and emotional wellbeing. While there will always be a place for anti-anxiety medications including anti-depressants (prescribed for anxiety), for many people exercise is a natural solution that brings lasting and helpful benefits in both the short and long term. Click to learn more about anxiety treatment.

I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Hawaii and an Accredited CBT Therapist in the UK with over 15 years of experience. I specialize in Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Anxiety Treatment using CBT, online therapy incorporating exercise and physical movement. I have received advanced specialist training in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Compassion Focused Therapy. Over the years I have helped many people suffering with Anxiety learn how to manage their thoughts, emotions and behaviors and ultimately feel better using Cognitive Behavior Therapy and physical exercise. Please reach out to my Honolulu or London clinic to set up an Exercise for Anxiety Treatment Test Drive

CBT Test Drive

The right approach, tools and fit is a game changer. For this reason, I offer an Initial Test Drive session to see if working together could be a great fit for you. Each Test Drive lasts between 45-60 minutes and takes place within my Video Consulting Room. Based on the latest evidence, science, and my experience, I will aim to make concrete suggestions as to what I think can be most helpful for you.