A few days ago we had already understood that moderate physical activity is able to counteract stress, insomnia and obesity. Today two further researches are added and they show that physical activity helps to counteract cellular degeneration and chronic anxiety. The first study was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise by an Australian team (Kim et al, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2021), while the second study is forthcoming in the Journal of Affective Disorders thanks to the work of a Swedish team (Henriksson et al, Journal of Affective Disorders, 2022).
Moderate physical activity against cancer
The Australian research team has performed a very fascinating and promising study. In particular, the researchers observed that some proteins produced by the muscles following physical exercise are able to counteract cellular degeneration and therefore the formation of tumors. At the moment the study has been performed only on prostate cancer, but the researchers are convinced that what they have observed can also be applied to other types of cellular degeneration. The researchers recruited ten patients with a diagnosis of prostate cancer. For 12 weeks, study participants were asked to undergo regular aerobic exercise sessions, such as walking, swimming, jogging or cycling, and generally any activity that required moderate effort for a prolonged period of time. At the beginning and at the end of the experiment, the volunteers were taken blood samples. This blood was then put in contact with prostate cancer cells in the laboratory. Well, what emerged was that the blood taken after 12 weeks of exercise was able to counteract the growth of diseased cells. This is due to particular proteins, called myokines, released by the muscles following exercise. Myokines signal the threat to the cells of our immune system, effectively acting as a scavenger team for cell degeneration.
Moving to counter chronic anxiety
The second research, on the other hand, focused on the effects of physical exercise on chronic anxiety. 286 people were recruited, all with an anxiety diagnosis that had lasted for at least 10 years. The volunteers were divided into two groups. The first group was asked to practice moderate physical activity for 12 weeks, while the second group had to practice, under expert guidance, a more intense workout, again for 12 weeks. At the end of the three months, all the study participants, although presenting a chronic anxiety condition that had lasted for several years, all showed signs of improvement, passing from conditions of even severe anxiety to conditions of low anxiety. Improvements were observed in both groups, although the group that underwent the most intense training showed a higher probability of improving the anxiety condition.
Here is further proof of the benefits of physical activity, both in terms of mood and body health. Although the second research shows that greater improvement in anxiety was seen with strenuous exercise, moderate physical activity showed important benefits in any case. In addition, moderate physical activity can be done by everyone at any time, without causing stress to the body.