Who among us isn’t stressed in some way or another? As we go through life we experience many situations that can lead to either short or long-term stress. I’m not about to start naming them, but I can certainly give first hand testimony to that! Raise your hand if you agree…
Okay, so how do you handle it? Exercise! It’s a proven stress-buster. Just one exercise session can generate 90-120 minutes of relaxation response. This is caused in part by the increase in production of endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. They improve your mood and leave you feeling relaxed. Clinicians have actually done studies on this and have measured a post-workout decrease in the electrical activity of tensed muscle and an increase in the flow of oxygen.
Exercise can also be a very positive distraction from life’s daily struggles. Concentrating on your body’s movements can cause you to forget about whatever else may be on your mind and replace it with a new sense of calm and balance. This creates a reduction in anxiety which may continue on to other aspects of your life and even improve your quality of sleep.
Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. Any form of movement will do as long as it’s something you enjoy so that you’ll stick with it and want to do it on a regular basis – that’s the key. For some exercisers an all-out sweat session is in order, while for others the focused and controlled movements of yoga or pilates are more desirable. All varieties are sure to improve your mood and body, therefore increasing your self-confidence.
Think about what works for you, your body and your daily schedule. Make it a priority and write it on your calendar. Work out alone or ask a friend to be your workout buddy. Find a personal trainer who can motivate, inspire, and encourage you to reach your goals. Make it your controlled environment, you have the power. Stop stressing and start moving!
What do you do to reduce the stress in your life? How does exercise affect your stress levels? Tell us in the comments!
By Amy Hall, Group Exercise Director & Personal Trainer, Elite Sports Club-North Shore