What Is the Link?
A recent study appears to confirm that exercise can reduce anger. According to Nathaniel Thom, a stress physiologist, "exercise, even a single bout of it, can have a robust prophylactic effect" against the buildup of anger. (See, "Phys Ed - Can Exercise Moderate Anger?" in The New York Times Sunday Magazine)
Why is that a surprise? Most therapists have a good, intuitive understanding of the link. But it might be counter-intuitive to those who think anger is a negative and dangerous eruption in the brain. How could something as positive and normal as exercise have an effect on an experience as toxic as anger is often thought to be? On another level, some might wonder, how can the body affect the mind?
Anger is a normal and adaptive response to an attack or a threat. It has been useful in our evolutionary struggle for survival. The brain detects the danger and the body is aroused and energized to react with fight or flight.
Sometimes, of course, it gets out of hand. Some people, clearly, see threats where there are none, or where the danger is minimal. Their bodies get aroused inappropriately. They could use some help in understanding the signals that trigger their responses, and finding ways to get their anger under better control.