Stress and Exercise Author:
exercise can help reduce your stress
HOW IT WORKS
People who exercise regularly will tell you they feel better. Some will say itís
because chemicals called neurotransmitters, produced in the brain, are
stimulated during exercise. Since itís believed that neurotransmitters mediate
our moods and emotions, they can make us feel better and less stressed. While
thereís no scientific evidence to conclusively support the neurotransmitter
theory, there is plenty to show that exercise provides stress-relieving
FOUR WAYS EXERCISE CONTROLS STRESS
Exercise can help you feel less anxious. Exercise is being prescribed in
clinical settings to help treat nervous tension. Following a session of
exercise, clinicians have measured a decrease in electrical activity of tensed
muscles. People have been less jittery and hyperactive after an exercise
Exercise can relax you. One exercise session generates 90 to 120 minutes of
relaxation response. Some people call this post-exercise euphoria or endorphin
response. We now know that many neurotransmitters, not just endorphins, are
involved. The important thing though is not what theyíre called, but what they
do: They improve your mood and leave you relaxed.
Exercise can make you feel better about yourself. Think about those times when
youíve been physically active. Havenít you felt better about yourself? That
feeling of self-worth contributes to stress relief.
Exercise can make you eat better. People who exercise regularly tend to eat more
nutritious food. And itís no secret that good nutrition helps your body manage
ITíS TIME TO GET STARTED.
Now that you know exercise can make a big difference in controlling stress, make
some time for regular physical activity. Weíll help you get started by listing
three activities you can choose from:
1. Aerobic activity. All it takes is 20 minutesí worth, six to seven days a
week. Twenty minutes wonít carve a big chunk out of your day, but it will
improve your ability to control stress significantly.
2. Yoga. In yoga or yoga-type activities, your mind relaxes progressively as
your body increases its amount of muscular work. Recent studies have shown that
when large muscle groups repeatedly contract and relax, the brain receives a
signal to release specific neurotransmitters, which in turn make you feel
relaxed and more alert.
3. Recreational sports. Play tennis, racquetball, volleyball or squash. These
exercises can help control stress games require the kind of vigorous activity
that rids your body of stress-causing adrenaline and other hormones.
Not just any exercise will do. Donít try exercising in your office. Outdoors or
away from the office is the best place to find a stress-free environment. Even a
corporate fitness centre can have too many work-related thoughts for some
Stay away from overcrowded classes. If you work surrounded by people, a big
exercise class may be counterproductive. Solo exercise may be more relaxing for
you. If, however, you work alone, you may enjoy the social benefit of exercising
in a group. A lot depends on your personality and what causes stress for you.
Donít skip a chance to exercise. Take a break every 90 minutes and youíll be
doing yourself a favour. Ninety-minute intervals are a natural work-break
period. And four 10- minute exercise breaks at this time will burn about as many
calories as a solid 40- minute session. Work-break exercises can be as simple as
walking or climbing stairs, stretching or doing callisthenics. Controlling
stress comes down to making the time to exercise.
This article is free for republishing
May 5, 2006