How Exercise Can Help You De-Stress
December 15, 2015
Regular exercise does more than keep you fit and healthy. It's also great for managing stress. Some people take up exercise to manage stress (often on a Doctor's recommendations). Others discover the powerful de-stressing benefits of regular exercise as an added side effect. If life often leaves you feeling tense, wound up, emotional and highly stressed, try gentle exercise. 10 ways exercise helps lower physical and emotional stress 1. Helps the body produce vitamin D by exposing us to bright sunshine 2. Lifts mood by getting out in the fresh air and nature 3. Stretches out stiff, sore muscles caused by sitting at a desk or driving and reclaims your body's vitality and energy 4. If you exercise with others, it helps you to engage with a powerful sense of community 5. If you choose to exercise alone, it can give you important "me-time" away from the bustle and stress of everyday life 6. Exercising encourages the body to release happy hormones (called endorphins), and the more often you exercise, the longer the effects last 7. Connecting with others through exercise classes, team sport, or your local gym community can boost self-worth 8. Workouts really do lower stress on a hormonal level, helping minimise the potentially damaging stress hormones (cortisol and adrenalin) 9. Exercise increases blood flow around the body, including to the brain, which can help feelings of clarity, focus and positivity 10. Ease out tense feelings from too much inactivity and enjoy the feeling of your body's natural movement Why does exercise help us feel less stressed? Our bodies are designed to move, not sit at desks or in cars for long periods of time. Regular exercise (however gentle) helps maintain the balance of our busy modern lifestyles. In fact, exercise is one of the fastest (not to mention cheapest and most sustainable) routes to better mood, lower stress and less tension. Exercise also boosts your endorphin levels, naturally. Endorphins are often called the "happy hormones". These neurotransmitters are produced by your body in response to pleasurable experiences - and exercise prompts the body to churn out plenty of endorphins. If you've heard of the so-called "runners high", that is referring to endorphins. But you don't need to run to enjoy a rush of endorphins. Do any exercise you like - even if that's a walk outside, a bike ride with your significant other, or a game of football in the park with your nephew. Gym time, exercise classes and swimming can all boost endorphins as well. The key is finding exercise you love, which makes you feel good and strikes the balance of purpose and pleasure. For some, that will be competitive sport and team sport. For others it will be solo exercise like yoga or walking. Some people will prefer cardiovascular workouts and others will find their zen in the free weights area of the gym. Find a form of exercise you love and do it regularly, and enjoy the incredible de-stressing effects of exercise and activity. What's your favourite exercise workout to de-stress?