Personal health journalist Andrew Katz has covered the research of SMU psychologist Dr. Jasper Smits in the popular magazine Men’s Health. The July 25 article, Stay Calm through Any Challenge, quotes Smits, an associate professor of psychology, on his research finding that high levels of physical activity can buffer against panic for those who are at risk.

People with an intense fear of the nausea, racing heart, dizziness, stomachaches and shortness of breath that accompany panic — known as “high anxiety sensitivity” — reacted with less anxiety to the study’s panic-inducing stressor if they had been engaging in high levels of physical activity.

“Anxiety sensitivity is an established risk factor for the development of panic and related disorders,” says SmitsJasper Smits, lead author on the research. “This study suggests that this risk factor may be less influential among persons who routinely engage in high levels of physical activity.”

Read the full article.


Andrew Katz
Men’s Health News

Step up your game, man. A more extreme workout won’t just leave you in better shape — it’ll ease your nerves if you’re at risk for panic attacks.

First, how do you know you might have panic attacks if you’ve never had one? Ask yourself this: Do you jump to the worst-case scenario? Example: Your heart doesn’t just pound — you start to think you’ll have a heart attack, which makes the panic even worse.

If you’ve had this experience, up your activity level, says Jasper Smits, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Southern Methodist University, and lead author of the study.

In Smits’s study, 145 adults who never had a panic attack (but answered questions suggesting that they were at risk for one) were put in a situation that usually induces panic, those who reported the most intense and frequent exercise were less anxious compared to their less-active peers. (Sounds fun!)

“Workouts like jogging, biking, and swimming were associated with the least anxiety,” Smits says.

Read the full article.