Exercise for Anxiety – Spinning
I’ll be writing a series of posts on the best forms of exercise for anxiety.
Today I tried spinning for the first time. I have to admit that for a long time I’d avoided it, despite the somewhat evangelistic praise it seemed to get from a few friends and numerous celebrities.
Maybe it was something about the intensity of it, the loud music and the shouting or the disco lighting that seems to emanate from every spin class I happened to pass by.
Either way, there was something vaguely intimidating about it all that meant I avoided trying it for years.
However a recent client remarked on it’s amazing mood boosting benefits and I knew I had to give I a try.
I attended a class at Boom Cycle in Shoreditch in London. Everyone was really friendly and there was certainly an emphasis on going at your own pace, while at the same time pushing yourself and doing your best for that time that you are in the class.
There were men and women in the class of different shapes and sizes and no one (as I had slightly feared) was singled out by the instructor for going too slowly or taking a rest.
The room was dimly lit (think ‘nightclub) as I think this is sometimes the case for spin classes. This could be helpful for you if you’re a bit self conscious about exercising in a group or of getting all hot and sweaty in front of others.
The music was loud and thumping which made it fun and the instructor gave us plenty of positive motivation during the course of the class.
I felt great after the class and I thought the combination of fun music, a motivating instructor and a good hard workout had helped me to feel calmer from the rest of the day.
The research seems to be mixed about whether low, medium or higher intensity exercise is best for stress and anxiety. However one study found that higher intensity exercise particularly benefited women with anxiety and the results were longer lasting than with lower intensities.
It might be that it’s a very personal thing; if you’re severely anxious and perhaps not very fit, high intensity exercise could only going to stress you out more. However if you’re fitter or only mildly or moderately anxious or stressed, a high intensity workout might be just the thing to burn up any excess adrenaline and increase levels of mood boosting endorphins that will give you more of a sense of wellbeing and calm.
Another reason spinning could be good is that doing something new and a bit challenging is a great way of raising our self efficacy. Self efficacy is our self belief and our sense that we can meet life’s challenges. Higher levels of self efficacy often mean lower levels of anxiety. Doing something that’s a bit new and a little difficult is a great way to boost our confidence in this way.
See what works for you and as always, don’t be too hard on yourself.
I’d love to know if you’ve ever tried spinning and whether you found it helped you. What other exercise would you recommend for anxiety?
Let us know in the comments below!