Exercise & Stress

As we all tackle yet another “Manic Monday,” I thought this was the perfect day of the week to talk about one of my favorite benefits of exercise: it’s a terrific way to kick stress right in the you-know-what!

First, let’s talk about why we need to get our stress levels under control. The human body being an amazing machine is designed to experience stress and react to it, which can help keep us alert in dangerous situations. However, when stress becomes more of a chronic “condition” and the body has no outlet for relief, that’s when bad things can happen.

Anyone who’s ever been stressed out – and who hasn’t? – has most likely experienced some of these stress-related physical symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Flare ups of medical conditions including arthritis and skin problems (e.g. Psoriasis, Rosacea)
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble sleeping

It may surprise you to learn about some of the latest statistics when it comes to stress here in the United States:

  • Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
  • Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.

So, in an effort to not become a statistic, I find regular exercise keeps my stress levels in check. Why? Well, turns out physical activity boosts production of those feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain known as endorphins. This is often referred to as a “runner’s high.” However, as someone who doesn’t run, I have first-hand knowledge that you can still experience the rush after a heart-pounding trip on the elliptical machine, a 60-minute strength training class or partying it up in Zumba.

Another great thing about exercise is that whether you’re shooting hoops or swimming laps, the activity shifts your mind’s focus away from what caused your state of distress. Whatever tight deadlines or crazy shoot scenarios I deal with during the day, once I finally get to the gym and start moving, my mind turns its attention to the task at hand: breathing, maintaining good form and enjoying my workout tunes. Work is no longer the focus of my attention and my mind starts to clear.

Quite honestly, after a crazy day at work, nothing sets my mind straight again quite like a good workout. Sure, a glass of wine doesn’t hurt either, but feeling good after breaking a sweat usually stops me from letting one glass turn into multiple ones and negating the effects of all that hard work! Keeping those stress levels under control is just another way exercise can help us with our daily efforts to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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Kick stress in the.... Photo by Leslie Hassler

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Posted on March 12, 2012, in Fitness, Health and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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