Exercise – The Ultimate Stress Buster

by | Mar 18, 2022 | Exercise | 0 comments

Feeling stressed out managing your life and weight? You’re not alone! In fact, it is estimated that as many as 90% of doctor’s visits in America are due to stress-related conditions. That’s all the more reason to start de-stressing!

The Anti-Stressor

Not only does stress make the day unpleasant and put you in a bad mood, but it has physical consequences, too. For example, the body responds to stress by releasing cortisol, a hormone that triggers cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods.

But the body also has a built-in agent to counter that side effect; the feel-good hormones that get released while exercising called endorphins. Physical activity is actually a fantastic way to fight stress. According to the American Psychological Association, people who exercise report lower rates of anxiety and depression. One study showed that running can help calm you by creating stress-resistant neutrons. Actually, any cardio activity that requires you focus on breathing has a natural de-stressing quality.

Ironically, being under a lot of pressure can stop you from exercising. Being too tired, strapped for time, or even highly distracted by life are common sources of stress and excuses to bail on exercising.

Whatever the cause for your stress, it’s important to learn how to fight past those obstacles and stay active during stressful times. Here’s why:

  • Exercise…Improves self-confidence and makes you feel good about yourself.
  • Relieves tension.
  • Improves the quality of sleep and better sleep lowers stress.
  • Releases endorphins (feel-good chemicals) into your blood stream, giving you a feeling of happiness and well-being.
  • Improves blood flow to your brain, helping to boost energy and thinking power.
  • Stimulates receptors in the nervous system that decrease the production of stress hormones.

So when you find yourself putting exercise on the back burner because life gets hard or you feel too tired after a stressful day to make time to workout, remind yourself that adding exercise into your routine won’t add to your stress, but will help lessen it… both now and in the future. In a moment of stress, exercising is an opportunity to give yourself something else to focus on. In fact, it will help you think more clearly, making you more efficient. Being physical also will give you more energy, so you can dash from one commitment to the next without running out of gas. And, it will improve your mood, giving you a more positive outlook on the challenges you face.

Now and Then

There are different ways to use exercise for anxiety. If you are in the middle of the stress, a short-term or acute response might be the most effective.

Anthony R., a member of the National Weight Control Registry, admits he used to overeat when stressed. As he started dropping pounds, he developed healthier responses. Now, when he starts feeling stressed, he goes for a walk or to the gym “to burn off the stress and some extra calories.” Anthony has lost a total of 88 pounds and has kept it off for more than 11 years.

Regular exercise can change your mind about what’s stressful because you are in better shape physically and emotionally to handle such situations. Rosie O’Neill travels thousands and thousands of miles for her online gourmet candy business. Constantly catching a flight coupled with the fact that she has to eat candy as part of her job could set her for high-stress, high-calorie days. To compensate, Rosie told USA Today, she exercises regularly, even if that means doing calf raises while waiting in line at the rental car kiosk or walking around the airport terminal.

To get serious about stress-busting, it’s essential to get active and stay active. The best way? Just do it! That’s right, just get moving! Dance to music, play a game of tennis with a friend, or take a walk around the neighborhood. You can also sneak exercise into daily activities. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Going shopping? Great, walk the mall before you shop. When spending time with family or friends, hit the park and kick the soccer ball around. Staying at home? Pace while talking on the phone instead of sitting in a chair.

Do some form of physical activity every day, and your body and mind will thank you!


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