The Benefit of Working Out That Lena Dunham Didn't Expect

Lena Dunham is majorly into her health these days—and everyone’s favorite millennial is (duh) posting up a storm about it on Instagram, sharing everything from her favorite workouts to her healthy snack discoveries.

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But according to the caption on her latest gym selfie, Dunham, 28, has found that the benefits of exercise go beyond living “past 50.”

“Promised myself I would not let exercise be the first thing to go by the wayside when I got busy with Girls Season 5 and here is why: it has helped with my anxiety in ways I never dreamed possible,†the actress, writer, and director shared with her followers on Saturday. “It ain’t about the ass, it’s about the brain.â€

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She also credits Health’s own contributing fitness editor Tracy Anderson for “showing [her] the light.â€

Dunham has long been open about her struggles with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, particularly in her recent book, Not That Kind of Girl ($ 28, amazon). In an excerpt published in The New Yorker prior to the book’s release, she detailed the difficult symptoms, including crippling fears of faraway threats like tidal waves and nuclear war. With the help of her parents, she eventually found a therapist and went on medication.

Exercise is in fact a powerful tool for treating depression and anxiety: a 2010 review of studies from the University of Georgia found that regular exercise reduced anxiety symptoms by 20%.

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Still, it’s easy to understand why a depressed or anxious person may have extra hurdles when it comes to finding the motivation to work out, something Dunham touches on as well. “To those struggling with anxiety, OCD, depression: I know it’s mad annoying when people tell you to exercise, and it took me about 16 medicated years to listen,†she wrote. “I’m glad I did.â€

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