Anxiety can strike anyone, and there are many ways of handling it. From pills to pets, the abundance of approaches to tackling the problem is impressive. However, one of the fastest ways that help bring relief is physical activity. Of all fun activities of the kind, Zumba has recently been reported to be most effective at reducing anxiety. Ready to learn a couple of moves?
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If anxiety becomes a problem, many people prefer to take drugs instead of making changes to their lifestyle–which is the cause of anxiety in most cases–because it is easier to swallow a pill than to make yourself break your bad habits and adopt new, healthy ones. Dragging yourself out of bed is a challenge, so taking up a sport seems to be a mission impossible.
However, it appears that there is a fun way of doing regular physical activity and eliminating some of the stress you are under. Actually, there are many such activities, such as yoga, but Zumba has been praised as the most effective option.
What is Zumba anyway?
The whimsical name describes a kind of dance-fitness programs which embrace Latin American dancing moves and classic fitness exercises. However, to many, Zumba is just fun, and it is one of the reasons it can be used as a way to treat anxiety.
Is it really that good?
A team of scientists from the Federal University of Goiás has recently evaluated the effectiveness of Zumba at reducing anxiety. According to them, just one session of Zumba lasting 20 minutes (they used the Xbox 360 Kinect Zumba game) can reduce the state anxiety to a significant extent. It is worthy of note that it did not appear to boost the level of enjoyment or relative/absolute changes in anxiety levels.
It is believed that it is the combination of exercising proper and dancing that does the trick. Exercising helps prevent depression (not anxiety, though), and dancing brings more fun thus countering anxiety that may haunt you.
As a bonus, it usually implies exercising in a group, which contributes to your social activity. Loneliness has been linked to higher mortality and is now even considered just as serious a risk factor as smoking and obesity (if not more), so dancing with someone else can be a nice way to lose a couple of extra pounds and help your mind.
Another study that showed Zumba is beneficial to mental health is the one carried out by Swiss researchers: they found that eight weeks of doing Zumba on a regular basis can improve neuromuscular function, aerobic fitness, and general well-being, which is reported to have increased by around 9%. Besides, the self-esteem of the women who took part in the research as volunteers increased by about 16%.
What if I’m too anxious and shy to dance with others?
Come on, it’s not tango or flamenco, and no one is going to stare at you as you are trying to look agile while jumping. It is not supposed to be something beautiful or worth improving the “technique” of. You just move rhythmically, and others do the same – it’s fun, and no one is going to mock you if you fail to dance like Shakira or Jennifer Lopez.
If you cannot overcome your shyness or do not want to join a Zumba group for some other reason, you can practice it at home. Watch several videos, turn the music on, and start moving! Feel your anxiety fading away, and don’t forget to make your physical activities regular.
It goes without saying that physical activity, and Zumba in particular, can help you reduce anxiety, but the approach to the problem must be comprehensive: psychotherapies of various kinds, diets, medications – there are a lot of things of which anti-anxiety programs consist, so if your anxiety interferes with your activities or prevents you from sleeping, consulting a doctor is definitely an option to consider.
Exercise and the Prevention of Depression: Results of the HUNT Cohort Study – Ajp.psychiatryonline.org