One systematic review (1) undertook three different meta-analyses and found a meta-anlaysis of four RCTs demonstrated a trend (non-statistically significant effect) towards reducing social anxiety symptoms (d = – 0.24, P = 0.377). For studies with longitudinal design significantly lower levels of SA symptoms were found after physical activity (d = – 0.22, P= 0.001). In cross sectional studies there was a small negative association between social anxiety disorder and the amount of physical activity i.e., lower social anxiety was found in for people who were more physically active (R – 0.12, P = 0.003). Some evidence in the RCTs that higher intensity and diversity of exercise may have had great effect, this could be due to increased motivation.
Quality of evidence
B – Moderate
Strength of recommendation
1 – Strong
Physical activity can be beneficial in reducing symptoms of social anxiety; however, the evidence is limited.
1) Zika MA, Becker L. Physical Activity as a Treatment for Social Anxiety in Clinical and Non-clinical Populations: A Systematic Review and Three Meta-Analyses for Different Study Designs. Front Hum Neurosci. 2021 Jun 11;15:653108. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2021.653108. PMID: 34177489; PMCID: PMC8230570.