With everything we have to balance now between life, the kids and work, it’s no wonder most people walk around in a chronic state of stress. Stress is in essence an inevitable part of life. There is an extremely strong correlation between using exercise to manage stress levels so to mark National Stress Awareness Day today, I’ve done some research and have compiled my thoughts in this blog.
Exercise is vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can definitely reduce stress levels. When stress affects the brain, the rest of the body feels the impact as well, so it stands to reason that if your body feels better, so does your mind. According to ADAA, studies have shown that exercise 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.
Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects – a workout can help take your mind off your worries.
Aerobic exercise is key for your head (and your heart) You may not agree at first as the first steps are the hardest, and in the beginning, exercise will be more work than fun. But as you start improving your fitness levels, you’ll begin to tolerate exercise, then finally you’ll begin enjoying it (hopefully).
Physical activity improves your body’s ability to use oxygen and also improves blood flow. Both of these changes have a direct effect on your brain. When we exercise, hormones are released. Stress hormones such as cortisol are decreased and ‘feel good’ chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins (the body’s natural pain killers) are released, therefore helping to naturally enhance your mood and reduce stress.
The repetitive motions involved in exercise promote a focus on your body, rather than your mind. By concentrating on the rhythm of your movements, you experience many of the same benefits of meditation while working out.
Most people notice an improvement in their mood immediately after a workout. Those feelings don’t end there, but generally become cumulative over time. If you make exercise part of your normal routine, the chances are, you will find committing to regular exercise much easier. Frequent aerobic exercise will bring amazing changes to your body, your metabolism, your heart, and your spirits. It has the ability to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress.
By improving your physical health, the hope is you’ll have one less to feel stressed about.