Feeling a little stressed?
Stress is something that we are forced to live with today, and even though too much can be a problem, both mentally and physically, not all stress is bad. Stress is an important part of life – you can’t achieve positive adaptations or muscle growth without it. It’s the continuous sources of stress that are the ones that can negatively impact your health.
Life is hectic and it is easy to feel too busy and too stressed to get in a workout. That’s exactly the reason you should find the time to fit one in.
We all know that exercise is good for us, keeps the heart healthy and gets oxygen into the system, but it also helps deplete stress hormones and releases mood-enhancing chemicals which help us cope with stress better.
According to the Mayo Clinic, three of the main stress-busting benefits of exercise are:
- It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps to 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 and reduce stress.
- 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 that you do.
- It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All this can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.
It is important not to think of exercise as just one more thing on your to-do list; this will only contribute to your stress level. Instead, find an activity you love to do. If you enjoy strength training, pick up a kettlebell or add weight to the squat rack. If you’re a social exerciser, pay a visit to any class in the Group Exercise studio. Any form of exercise is beneficial, so doing what you enjoy will keep your motivation high while keeping your stress low.
Whatever exercise you try, you will soon discover its major benefit is that it allows you to forget your problems. To benefit from exercise, it needs to be done regularly; aim to be active nearly every day. Mix going for a walk or jog with strength training and stretching two to three times a week, and you’ll have an excellent, balanced program for health and stress reduction.