Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphin and distract you from daily worries.
You know that exercise does your body good, but you're too busy and stressed to fit it into your routine. Hold on a second — there's good news when it comes to exercise and stress.
Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever. If you're not an athlete or even if you're downright out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management. Discover the connection between exercise and stress relief — and why exercise should be part of your stress management plan.
Exercise and stress relief
Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits.
- It pumps up your endorphin. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphin. Although this function is often referred to as a runner's high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.
- It's meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you'll often find that you've forgotten the day's irritations and concentrated only on your body's movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do.
- It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All this can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.
- Put exercise and stress relief to work for you
A successful exercise program begins with a few simple steps.
Consult with your doctor. If you haven't exercised for some time and you have health concerns, you may want to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
Walk before you run. Build up your fitness level gradually. Excitement about a new program can lead to overdoing it and possibly even injury. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity (think brisk walking or swimming) or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity (such as running). If you're new to exercise, start at the moderate level and then add vigorous activity as your fitness improves.
Do what you love. Virtually any form of exercise or movement can increase your fitness level while decreasing your stress. The most important thing is to pick an activity that you enjoy. Examples include walking, stair climbing, jogging, bicycling, yoga, tai chi, gardening, weightlifting and swimming.