Exercise Your Stress Away!

22 Aug

breakupWith our busy lives, long commutes, and urgent work emails and phone calls just one button push away, it’s no wonder most people walk around in a state of chronic stress.  For parents, school is now underway which includes a whole other level of stressors on top of it.

Symptoms of this stress can include aches and pains, tension headaches, stomach problems, irritability and an all-around melancholy. Sound familiar?  Thankfully, we have an easy antidote to our daily stress – it’s effective, cost efficient, you can find a place to do it pretty much anywhere and it’s completely natural.   You guessed it – we’re talking about EXERCISE.  It’s one of the best universal remedies out there, and if it’s not a part of your daily life, you’re missing out.

The physical benefits of exercise—improving physical condition and fighting disease—have long been established, and physicians always encourage staying physically active. Exercise is also considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.

What does exercise do for you and your body? 

  • It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.
  • It’s meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything you do.
  • It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence, it can relax you, and it can lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All of these exercise benefits can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.

Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever. If you’re not an athlete or even if you’re out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management.  So what types of exercise are the best?  Let’s break it down:

Cardio (High Energy Activities)

The benefits of aerobic exercise — like running, dancing, spinning, circuit training and high intensity interval training (HIIT) — include an increased heart rate. When your heart rate is accelerated, your body releases endorphins, natural opiates that make you feel good with no side effects. High-energy activities help you feel better physically and mentally. Just be sure to check with your doctor before starting any high-intensity workouts.

Yoga

Yoga, an excellent stress-relief exercise, involves a series of moving and stationary poses, or postures, combined with deep breathing. A mind-body exercise, yoga can strengthen your body’s natural relaxation response and bring you into a healthy balance. For stress relief, do gentle yoga or yoga for beginners — popular “power yoga” classes may be too intense if your main goal is to ease stress.

Pilates

Pilates, a series of controlled movements and mat exercises named after their creator, Joseph Pilates, is designed to build your strength, flexibility, and endurance — all of which make practicing Pilates, an anaerobic (as opposed to aerobic) exercise, a great stress reliever. Pilates also tones your body, which in turn helps you look good and feel better.

Kickboxing

Kickboxing is a powerful means of reducing stress. It involves controlled punching and kicking movements carried out with discipline. You can get quite a rigorous workout in a kickboxing class, and that’s only one of its excellent benefits. Kickboxing regularly will help improve your balance, flexibility, and coordination. It’s also a great way to work out frustration — having an outlet to release energy and anger can relieve stress.

Outdoor Routines (Take It on the Road)

Long-distance running, biking, cross-country skiing, and other outdoor activities provide a change of scenery and a dose of fresh air, both of which can help clear your mind.  Also, outdoor settings such as mountains, a biking trail, or a neighborhood park are pleasant places to spend time in. Beautiful settings can lift your mood and shake up your workout routine.

Stress will always be a part of our lives, but we don’t have to let it control us!

~Dayna
PX Front Desk

Article Sources
-Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.com)
-Everyday Health (www.everydayhealth.com)
-Anxiety and Depression Association of America (www.adaa.org)
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