Entertainment

This Fun Activity for Kids Can Build Confidence and Banish Anxiety in Adults

Tags:

This may sound strange, but if you’re feeling out of sorts, you may want to pick up a Hula-Hoop. Playful activities like Hula-Hooping can be powerful tools for coping with anxiety, according to Adam Heenan, PhD, a psychologist who has researched the effects of exercise on anxiety.

“When you’re doing something that is really fun, you’re distracted and in a good mood, so your worries are not as frightening,” explains Heenan. “Hula-Hooping requires focus. It keeps you from being left with your thoughts or overthinking things.” 

The activity also acts as a moving meditation. Indeed, researchers at the University of Miami found that swaying back and forth for two minutes, like you do when Hula-Hooping, calms the nervous system, an effect that lowers cortisol levels by 25 percent and cuts stress levels in half for two hours. The long-term payoff: Knowing there’s a fast, easy cure close at hand helps stop future anxiety spirals before they begin, leaving you with a sense of control that limits worries over time.

If you’re dealing with something more serious, like agoraphobia, joyful movement like Hula-Hooping can also be an effective coping tool. “People with agoraphobia typically have a persistent fear that they will have a panic attack in an environment in which escape would be difficult,” explains Heenan. “Exercise helps people perceive their environment in a less threatening way.”

Activities that prompt the release of endorphins, like exercise and laughing, can also help dampen feelings of dread. To get the benefits, try Hula-Hooping for a few minutes when you’re feeling stressed or anxious.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

More From FIRST

5 Ways Tech is Aging Your Skin — And How to Outsmart It

8 Makeup Tips for Feeling Beautiful After Perimenopause

4 Simple Ways to Deal With Stress By Harnessing The Power of Awe

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.