Anxiety and anxiety disorders can be crippling to so many people, especially to those over the age of 50. As we age, we tend to worry more. The side effects of this worrying can cause some serious health issues, including depression, sleeplessness, memory loss, loss of sexual desire, and mood swings.
Studies have shown that exercise and serotonin can help combat anxiety and relieve the symptoms associated with it, especially in older people. Why? Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a brain chemical, which allows signals to pass between nerves. Serotonin is responsible for your mood, appetite, memory, sleep patterns, and sexual desire. Low levels have been connected with depression and high levels of anxiety.
It is important to keep your serotonin levels up to combat problems. Exercise and certain foods have been shown to help keep your serotonin at the appropriate level. Exercise has been shown to help increase your brains ability to use serotonin from your blood. More serotonin, less worrying! Below are some exercise tips that have been found helpful:
- Make sure that you are consistent with your exercising. You should exercise consistently for several weeks to feel the benefits. Your exercise routine should include at 4-5 days of exercise per week. It is best to get at least 30 minutes of exercise.
- The best type of exercise to help increase serotonin levels and combat anxiety is aerobic exercise. This type of exercise will get your heart rate up and increase the level in your blood and therefore increase the uptake by the brain. The best exercises are swimming, biking, dancing, tennis, and brisk walking.
- While yoga is not considered an aerobic exercise, it still has shown some of the same benefits. It helps to calm the mind and alleviate worry.
In addition to adding these exercises into your weekly routine, you may wish to add some foods to your diet that have been shown to help increase serotonin levels. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is required by our body to process proteins. Our bodies do not produce tryptophan, therefore we must get this from our diet.
This amino acid is a precursor for serotonin and helps increase its levels. You can add foods such as shrimp, cod, tuna, chicken, spinach, turkey, salmon, soybeans, asparagus and broccoli to your diet. These are all excellent sources! Other helpful foods include mustard seeds, cauliflower, collard greens, swiss chard, and kale.
Increasing your serotonin levels and getting exercise will do more than alleviate your anxiety. Because your mood will be enhanced, you will find you are more social and want to spend more time with friends and family. You will sleep better and have less mood swings, which will allow you to enjoy all that life has to offer!
Please Note: Always consult a Physician before starting or stopping any exercise routines or taking any new supplements.
By Tammy Moorehead, CHHP, for the 50 Plus Report