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Revista da Associação Médica Brasileira

Print version ISSN 0104-4230On-line version ISSN 1806-9282


ALVES, Dalton Gonçalves Lima et al. The positive impact of physical activity on the reduction of anxiety scores: a pilot study. Rev. Assoc. Med. Bras. [online]. 2019, vol.65, n.3, pp.434-440.  Epub Apr 11, 2019. ISSN 0104-4230.


To compare anxiety scores between physical activity practitioners and sedentary, men and women and to relate them to physical activity frequency and age.


In this cross-sectional study, a sample of 256 regular aerobic physical activity practitioners was compared to a sample of 256 sedentary individuals (control group). Anxiety scores were quantified by Anxiety Inventory Spielberger State-Trait (STAI). The scores of the groups were compared using the Student t-test and chi-square test for parametric and non-parametric data, respectively. The correlation between scores of different variables was performed using the Pearson test.


There was a significant difference between the average anxiety scores (p <0.001) and the chi-square test proved there is a higher prevalence of severe anxiety (p <0.001) in the sedentary group. Age did not correlate with worse anxiety scores (p <0.05). Comparing by gender, women had a higher prevalence of intense anxiety.


Individuals who engage in regular physical activity have lower levels of anxiety, and both sexes are benefited with the anxiolytic potential of physical activity. Therefore, this study proved that the Roman poet Juvenal was right, and his expression “Mens sana in corpore sano,” could also be interpreted in the opposite direction, i.e., a healthy body correlates with a healthy mind.

Keywords : Anxiety; Exercise; Sedentary lifestyle; Psychiatry.

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