How Exercise Reduces Stress
Exercise reduces stress and is a very effective stress management technique. These stress relief exercises can help you take control of stress, reduce stress related illness, and improve health.
As you know, there are many physical benefits of exercise – exercise reduces obesity, reduces the risk of heart disease and increases the longevity of life.
But did you know that exercise is a great way to reduce stress.
Stress relief exercises release the pent up energy that the stress response can create. With some types of exercise you can release your body’s feel good chemicals, increasing your happiness levels.
But there are many other ways exercise reduces stress. Here are some of them.
How exercise reduces stress
Depending on the different stress relief exercises that you can do, exercise reduces stress in a number of different ways.
Exercise relaxes muscles. Have you ever felt ‘uptight’ when stressed? Well A typical symptom of stress is muscle tension. When stressed your body tenses up in preparation for fight or flight. Exercise can help the muscles to use the pent up energy and is effective in releasing muscle tension before it can result in muscle pain or spasms.
Utilizes the stress hormones. A number of hormones are secreted into the blood stream when stressed. These hormones if not used up these can lead to feelings of irritability, increased vigilance and can eventually lead to a number of stress related illnesses. Exercising can help you to use some of the stress hormones that can accumulate in the body in response to stress.
Exercise uses fat and cholesterol. When stressed your body requires fuel to fight or flee from the source of stress. This means that the liver is working to convert glycogen to glucose. At the same time, the liver’s cholesterol production increases. Exercise helps to remove this excess cholesterol.
Exercise gives you a feeling of happiness. Exercise also releases endorphins into the body, which give your body a natural boost. Endorphins are natural pain killers that give you a feeling of happiness and positive well being. They usually peak about one hour after exercise.
Exercise can reduce pent up frustration. Stress can lead to higher levels of pent up frustration. This in turn can aggravate panic of phobic tendencies. Exercise can help to reduce this pent up frustration.
Exercise can take your mind off your problems. Exercise can help to take your mind of your problems. How often have you been stressed after a hard day's work or worrying about paying a bill, only to have it all wash away as you take in a change of scene, kicking a ball, or running in a park.
You look better. Exercise tones up your muscles, reduces weight and improves your health. This can make you feel better and improve your self esteem and confidence. While it may sound shallow, it is a significant affect for people who derive self-esteem from their looks.
Exercise can provide social support. Exercise also gives you the opportunity to meet other similar minded people, especially exercise that involves others. Sharing your time with others can improve your mood and reduce your stress.
Reduce the impact of illness. Exercise can improve your health in the short and long-term, which can lower your stress. Exercise reduces the chances of catching a cold and flu and also helps you to stay healthier - longer! Both factors can reduce your stress significantly.
Improve your resiliency to stress. Exercise can also improve your resilience to stress. Research shows that those who exercise are more likely to have less of a stress reaction to adverse situations. Fit people are more likely to handle the effects of stress on health and burnout.
As you can see there are plenty of reasons why we should exercise - one of them being that exercise reduces stress.
But while you and I may know this - it can still be difficult to stay motivated. Here are some tips to develop your exercise program for stress relief and overall better health.
Want to stick to your exercise routine - here's how
Like dusting your bookshelf - stress relief exercises are easy to put off. Some common excuses that I have heard (and used for myself) are that "I don't have time" or "I'll do it tomorrow".
This can mean that I never get around to it - that's because exercise can be hard work.
But there are many ways that you can maximize your chances of sticking to an exercise routine.
One note of caution - always seek advice from your doctor before starting any new exercise program, particularly if you are overweight or older.
Firstly it is important to take small steps. There is no greater drain on motivation than doing too much too soon - it can leave you very sore and be very taxing on your body.
The more that you like your exercise - and there has to be something you enjoy doing - the more likely you will stay with it.
Having an exercise that you find pleasurable and enjoyable means that the exercise is going to relieve your stress rather than be another cause of stress for you.
I write more on how to maintain your exercise routine with this article on exercise and stress.
Reduce stress with these stress reduction activities
Its clear that exercise reduces stress, but the benefits of exercise extend beyond stress management to the promotion of overall health and wellbeing. Here are some exercises - ones that get you moving and ones that relax you.
Progressive muscle relaxation is a stress reduction exercise that was developed in the 1920's by Edmund Jacobson. This technique systematically tenses and releases different muscle groups which can greatly relax your body. Try this progressive muscle relaxation script as a stress reduction strategy.
This deep breathing exercise reduces stress by increasing the lungs capacity to deliver oxygen to your blood and promote a relaxed effect. These deep breathing exercises use diaphragmatic breathing strategies for stress relief.
What is more contagious than a cold but is good for you? You guessed it...laughter and humor provide a buffer for dealing with stress. Laughter lightens your load and helps you see the world from a different perspective. This article discusses how laughter therapy can reduce stress.
Exercise reduces stress by releasing excess muscle tension and accumulated stress hormones. But exercise does not get to the root cause of stress. If you are not sure where your stress is coming from then it is time to gather objective data with a stress diary. A stress diary will help identify the main causes of stress for you.
Effects of Stress: Stress Affects the Mind and Body
Take Charge: A Life of Meaning and Purpose Reduces Stress
Positive Thinking: Positive Thinking Tips for Stress Reduction
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