This Is the Best Exercise for Anxiety—and It’s Absolutely Free

Workouts have so much to offer: Yoga “creates space” in the body, Pilates works the tiniest nooks of your body, and HIIT gets your heart racing. Exercise works wonders for your mental health, but when we asked a psychologist to name the absolute best exercise for anxiety, he said one outpaces all the rest: running.

“If you choose the right activities, exercise can be a distraction that allows the part of our brain that works in anxiety to cool off,” says Kevin Gilliland, PsyD, a licensed psychologist and executive director of Innovation360. This region of your brain is known as the limbic system, and it rules over your emotions and memory. “Anything that’s a compound, complex movement is ideal for helping out with anxiety, because there is no way I can worry about a project at work and, say, stand in a complicated yoga pose,” says Dr. Gilliland. And when it comes to providing that sweet, sweet neuro-distraction, no movement works quite as well as running.

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