How can exercise help me deal with panic attacks?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
If you're no stranger to sweaty palms, frantic thoughts, a racing heart, and other signs of a looming panic attack, you might find that physical activity can keep you cool as a cucumber. It can dial down your reaction enough to keep little blips of anxiety (like when you can't find your car in a humongous parking lot) from snowballing into something bigger and scarier.

Regular activity helps you stay calm when you feel early signs of Big Trouble. (And by the way, you're not alone. Nearly one in 20 adults will deal with panic at some point in his or her lifetime.) This is the latest addition to the ways being active improves emotional as well as physical health. It's already proved to ease depression, reduce normal anxiety, and relieve stress. Whether you're seeing a therapist to deal with panic or trying to cope with a milder case on your own, exercise is a great add-on.

Try it for mild cases of nerves, too. A morning bike ride might ease those butterflies before you give a speech at the local Rotary Club or present to your boss. Just 30 minutes of movement decreases stress hormones and increases feel-good brain chemicals. Your mind quiets down, and you can focus on the key things -- like solving whatever triggered that "uh-oh" feeling in the first place.

Exercise also eases depression.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.