Exercise reduces social anxiety

Adrienne (BA Psychology) is a Child and Youth Worker (CYW) student at Fanshawe College, currently on placement with mindyourmind. She has a passion for psychology and mental wellness, and loves working with children and youth. In her spare time, Adrienne enjoys nature, discovering new music and visiting with her niece "Ella" (while secretly analyzing her developmental milestones).

Queens’ University researchers have recently discovered that exercise can have a positive effect on individuals with social anxiety disorders. The researchers found that these individuals’ perceived figures comprised of dots as facing towards them and therefore more threatening. Participants were asked to either walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes or stand still. Those participants who engaged in the physical exercise perceived the figures as facing towards them less often than those who did not. The same was true for those who engaged in a muscle relaxation technique similar to those performed in yoga. The study discusses how anxious people tend to focus on more threatening/anxiety inducing stimuli in their environment. Researchers believe it is this bias that perpetuates the disorder, creating a vicious and continuous cycle that is difficult to escape. Exercise and muscle relaxation help to break this cycle and can therefore aid in the reduction of social anxiety.