Running, Anxiety, and Muscle Building

Wussup T-Maggers. Well here is my problem. I’m living with excessive anxiety and worry on a daily basis and am trying to combat it with the use of exercise as oppose to medication, which I hear is the worst to be on when trying to get into shape. Anyways, I find that going for a 30 minute - 45 minute run helps to supress my anxiety and increase my happiness. But the only problem is that I’m trying to build a lot of muscle and I know that cardio shrinks muscles and causes catabolism. My question is, is there a way to keep all of my muscle and build more muscle while doing up to an hour of running a day?

Hmm, well you could simply change your exercise regimine to strength-training which should give you the same effect. Strength training should help you put on weight. Usually the more you weigh, the more “happy chemicals” your brain produces. More weight tends to = a bigger brain because the cells are hypertrophed (and I say tends with extreme caution because I’m not trying to advocate any weight discrimination here! :slight_smile: and this is not always true as there are so many factors to brain size and happiness.). This doesn’t neccessarilly make you any smarter but it certainly can increase the potential for a higher intellect, taken your brain cells haven’t been damaged too much by free radicals etc (however the more you weigh, the more free radicals you have in your system usually due to a larger mass so just be sure to take a good multi-vitamin supplement, especially vitamin E to combat the oxidative stress brought on by weight-training) (lot of things to factor in). (I take 1000 IU a day with vitamin C, selenium, flax seed, and I tend to get allmy vitamin A’s from my diet so I tend to go with a beta carotein supplement tied in with my multi-vitamin… etc… Having anxiety can mean you might not be re-uptaking your seretonin or dopamine that well or your brain cycles them too quickly or slowly etc… There are other reasons this could be, but taking certain medications myself to combat these problems, I can say I’ve noticed no negative side effects by taking them and incorperating them into my life while leading an active lifestyle and with proper diet and exercise. Yes, sure, I probably could counter the anxiety brought on by my genetics with exercise to feel normal, but exercise is about feeling good about yourself. It wouldn’t hurt for you to get the brief highs that come with exercise and taking prescription medications. Id’s also recommend that you decrease your fat intake a bit, increase your carb intake (this will help you gain weight), and eat lean meats. Eating lean = growing big. Fatty foods tend to ironically inhibit appetite in some respects. Make sure however you get all the right %s of the types of fats you need, don’t avoid them all-together like they are bad, it just should help if you reduce any excess in needed fatty acids that corresponds with your current weight. Make sure you also get enough sleep! I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THAT ENOUGH! Weight training will definately help you get better sleep. Sleep is essential to feeling good and replenishing the brains chemicals and other bodilly functions plus it helps by oxidizing less muscle and burning more fat. Strengh train and you’ll not only look better about yourself, you will feel better as well. If you don’t like strengh training, and wish to continue with your running regimine, I would recomend that your cardio be extended with say, uphill jogging to get a bit of anearobics in or you can simply increase your protein intake to reduce the catabolism as well as a bit of extra carbs. Proper supplementation also helps as well. I hope this helps. If you have any other q’s feel free to post on the board.


I agree with Joe: make sure you’re eating enough of food to make up for the running. Also, consider such things like yoga or Tai Chi to help deal with your anxiety and help you relax. Less taxing than running.

I have personal experience with this, as a loved one suffers from clinical depression and panic attacks. Although the above posts have good ideas in them, remember that the most important thing you can do is to keep the anxiety at bay. If you let yourself get depressed and anxious, you won’t work out at all. By all means try other things, but segue (sp?) into them. Maybe cut running to 45 min and add other training, and so on. Rule number one in damage control is “hold what you got!” Good luck.

Yoga, meditation, and running when mixed intelligently work just Fine. When I had all kinds of dealines and pressure and only had enough time to lift heavy I succombed and experienced great anxiety. The Doc gave me Buspar which is a mild tranquilizer that I think they gave horses. Anyway, after a few months (when I did start doing aerobics again) I started getting fat. I think it inhibits neuro response too much and perhaps keeps too much stress off the heart. Anyway, it’s no good.
I definately feel losing a little mass in sacrifice for heavy cardio three days a week is worth it, especially if it means not ahving to medicate alternatively. Like Patricia said tai Chi or yoga is great. If you can get yourself to do mediative breathing (slow: 3 in 4 out) for 20 minutes a day, that’s a great help too, though you sometimes do that in Yoga class.

Whatever the case, you may need to medicate just to get under control, but to live on them? F’that!

Namaste :slight_smile:


happiness and well-being is far more important than getting big muscles.

Just eat more food and try to split your workouts up (try not to run immediately following weight training). Also I caution you not to take your exercise program to the extreme otherwise it can be very addicting and you could easily find yourself unable to feel even somewhat normal unless you’re exercising for 2 hours everyday etc.

I forgot to mention that the type of anxiety I suffer from is specifically social anxiety disorder. Also, I have an endormorphic build so I wouldn’t be able to get big with great difficulty. The problem is that I put on fat very easily and find it difficult to add muscle as easily

You might consider bicycling or swimmming as lower impact alternatives to running, meaning less muscle damage. Same duration for the swimming will equal some great “mellowness” and maybe a little more time with bicycling.


4=AD takes away my anxiety in pill form ne way dunno bout spray.

For a good meditation program go to

Hi, most runners run (at least partially) to keep the demons at bay. Your best bet is to ditch 45 minute trots entirely and go to interval training three times a week and short steady runs the rest of the time. For example, one day you do 4 by 400m as fast as possible and take a 3 minute break between each. The next day you could do 3 miles at a hard steady pace. On the non exercise front, pick up the book Emotional Intelligence. Despite the goofy title, the author gives a thorough explanation of worry/panic and some practical ways of giving them the boot. Best of luck

It may be helpful to remember that any form of exercise is a stress to the body (unless some sort of meditation/breathing control is incorporated…such as yoga or t’ai chi). I know that for myself, some weight sessions leave me invigorated, but if I push too hard and too far, it can break me down not only physically, but also mentally. I have gotten “the shakes” on more than a few occasions, and that has added to my stress rather than decreased it. For those reasons, I would recommend to you that you choose your exercise options wisely - t’ai chi and yoga (as suggested above) may be beneficial, and the swimming and biking options are good as well. I would say that if you are contemplating a weight training program or are already doing one, training to failure may be counterproductive in terms of your mental state. Taking each set to 1 or 2 reps short of failure is easier on the nervous system and will generally result in less muscle damage (ie stress), than a traditional, to-failure program. Hope that helps.

Relaxation techniques such as meditation have been shown to help for long period of time afterward even if performed for just a few minutes. Also fish oil has been shown to help with depression and manic depression, so it might just help you. I think the people studied took 9 a day. Are you taking fish oil?

One thing that helped me dramatically was a little audio course called “NLP: the new technology of achievement.” It’s available here: products/nlp/nlp-025.html for $60. Amazon has a two tape version for $11.20 new and $7.98 used. You might find the full course used or at a discount somewhere. I borrowed it myself.