Exercise relieves stress from your mind and body which, in turn, improves your overall health and well-being. But perhaps the biggest benefit of using exercise as a
stress reduction technique
is that your mind and body can become more resistant to stress over time. Mental and physical fitness is the wall that protects you from many of life’s stressors, such as tension at work and physical illness, yet it keeps you in better spirits, too!
Dealing with Stress
Imagine a bad day you had at the office or a disagreement that occurred between you and a loved one; how did you feel? Perhaps your muscles tightened from the tension or your head pounded with pain for the next three days. You may have suffered a mild bout with
as well. The low mood and zapped energy from these common stressors can carry on for days, but the way in which you deal with the stress makes quite a difference.
Many people resort to alcohol use, grab an extra dessert or zone into something that takes their mind off the stress — but what does this leave us with? More stress! In the long run, a 10-minute walk can bring you much more relief than any of the above mentioned coping tactics.
Exercise Affects Brain Chemistry
The amygdala, which is the stress reception center of the brain, alerts your body to impending danger and produces a surge of adrenaline. While this adrenaline surge does help you get through some stressful situations, such as fleeing an attacker, a frequently recurring stress response is unhealthy and wears your body down. So, how do you counteract the stress response?
It’s true that an extra slice of chocolate cake can relieve some stress—not because it tastes great, but because it triggers a release of endorphins in your brain. But, exercise provides an endorphin release, too, without the regrets and extra pounds!
Exercise floods your mind with dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, which are the chemicals responsible for happiness and feelings of well-being. So grab yourself a cocktail—a natural chemical cocktail—when you feel the effects of stress. Your mood will lift as you work the tension from your body, and exercise will increase your energy level and reduce the frequency of sleepless nights.
Types of Exercise for Stress
Low-impact exercises, such as yoga and Tai Chi, are fun and relaxing exercise activities that you can do in a class or at home with a video.
A brisk, 30-minute walk provides aerobic activity and refreshing scenery. Take your dog along if you have one, as he’ll enjoy the walk with you!
Put some elbow grease into your home, and take a few trips up and down the stairs, as vigorous cleaning is also good exercise.
You don’t have to “hit the gym,” though a membership may help you keep an exercise schedule. Exercise relieves stress regardless of how you choose to do it, so find an activity that suits your lifestyle and fitness level to experience the many benefits of exercise for stress reduction.