The anxiolytic effects of exercise: A meta-analysis of randomized trials and dose-response analysis

Bradley M. Wipfli, Chad D. Rethorst, Daniel M. Landers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

245 Scopus citations


A meta-analysis was conducted to examine the effects of exercise on anxiety. Because previous meta-analyses in the area included studies of varying quality, only randomized, controlled trials were included in the present analysis. Results from 49 studies show an overall effect size of -0.48, indicating larger reductions in anxiety among exercise groups than no-treatment control, groups. Exercise groups also showed greater reductions in anxiety compared with groups that received other forms of anxiety-reducing treatment (effect size = -0.1.9). Because only randomized, controlled, trials were examined, these results provide Level 1, Grade A evidence for using exercise in the treatment of anxiety. In addition, exercise dose data were calculated to examine the relationship between dose of exercise and the corresponding magnitude of effect size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)392-410
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2008



  • Anxiety
  • Mental health
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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