Physical and mental health are inextricably linked. Improving your physical condition can help you better manage your emotions -- and when exercise is used in conjunction with therapy and anger management strategies it can help you control anger, frustration and anxiety. Any exercise is better than no exercise at all, but some exercises are more effective at controlling anger than others.
Anger and Exercise
Anger is often the result of frustration and anxiety that gets redirected toward others. According to psychologist Kelly Wilson in her book "Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong," hundreds of studies have demonstrated that exercise reduces anxiety. Exercise also reduces anger that is the result of frustration or anger management difficulties by burning off excess energy and releasing powerful endorphins that can help improve your mood. Exercise also reduces blood pressure. High blood pressure can make you feel angry, and may also be the consequence of excessive anger.
Aerobic exercise relies on oxygen to produce energy and is generally performed for several minutes or more. Commonly referred to as cardio, aerobic exercise includes a host of workouts that raise your heart rate. Because aerobic exercise increases the heart rate and exercise the pulmonary system, it is particularly effective at lowering blood pressure and reducing anxiety. Consider walking, jogging, bicycling or jumping rope. Each of these exercises can be done with very little training or practice, require little financial investment and provide a quick and easy cardiovascular workout.
According to the textbook "Biology: Life on Earth with Physiology," people who regularly interact with others in a cooperative fashion experience less stress and anger. Team sports are an excellent way to get quality exercise while practicing cooperation with others, both of which can reduce anger. Avoid team sports, such as hockey, that encourage fighting. Instead, try roller derby, baseball, basketball, tennis or soccer.
You don't have to be up and moving to be exercising. If you have chronic pain or are physically disabled, there are exercises you can do sitting down to reduce your anger. Practice tensing and relaxing each muscle group, starting at your toes and ending with your face. This process helps to relax your entire body, reducing both anger and anxiety. Deep breathing exercises can also help you control your temper and improve overall health. Take a deep breath in slowly, focusing on taking at least two seconds to inhale. Hold the breath for 10 seconds, or as long as you can, then exhale slowly for at least two seconds. Repeat five to 10 times.
- Biology: Life on Earth with Physiology; Gerald Audesirk et al.
- Mayo Clinic: Anger Management: 10 Tips to Tame Your Temper
- Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong; Kelly Wilson et al.
- Anger Management for Everyone; Raymond Chip Tafrate et al.
Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.