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Working it Out: Exercising for Stress Relief

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February 20, 2019 | Published by


When dealing with chronic stress or adrenal fatigue, a little exercise can go a long way. For some, just getting out of bed might seem as difficult as running a marathon, but we’re here to show you the benefits working out can have on a stress-filled life, plus offer some tips on how to get started.

Relieving stress through exercise

Exercise is generally known to improve overall health and help prevent against certain diseases, but it can also put you in a good mood and help you better manage stress.

A good workout releases chemicals called endorphins in your brain. When these endorphins are released, your brain has a harder time identifying the feeling of pain and can also induce a euphoric state. This positive feeling, which is often referred to as a “runners high,” has been shown to reduce anxiety and encourage an overall better outlook on life.

Like morphine, endorphins act as analgesics and sedatives. The neuron receptors endorphins bind to are the same ones found in some pain medicines. Fortunately, like some of these pain medications, this process cannot lead to dependence or addiction.

Another wonderful thing about the process of working out is finding a place to plan for things you may not have had before. Once you realize that this is your space, putting together plans and steps to benefit your future become easy.

The endorphin rush, along with the recently found motivation you get from working out, might just become the perfect time and place to start stepping in the right direction as far as getting your life to where you want it to be. In short, exercise can be a great motivator for further change.

In addition to making you feel better by way of chemical reaction, there are also indirect effects working out has on your mood. Sticking with a workout can help you drop some extra pounds that may be bothering you, thus increasing your confidence. A good workout also does wonders for your sleep schedule, which has been proven time and time again to aid in stress, depression, and anxiety.

Making exercise work for you

First and foremost, it’s important to consult with a physician if you feel like you’re not comfortable diving into a lifestyle change that revolves around a new, more active regime. If you believe you’re ready, keep in mind that your body might not be used to increased physical activity, so start slow. Building up your fitness level over time will prevent you from overdoing it and possibly even injuring yourself.  

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity a week for healthy adults. This includes activities such as brisk walking or swimming. If your schedule is tight and you feel like you are more active, you can do 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity such as running or jumping rope instead, or a combination of both moderate and vigorous activity.

If you’ve found in the past that exercising hasn’t worked for you, there’s a good chance you just didn’t find the right type of exercise. Someone that loves swimming might dislike running, and vice versa, so find something you enjoy and keep at it. Running, dancing, skiing, cycling, tennis, rowing, and swimming are only a few examples, so do some research and try out different types!

It’s easy to drop exercise routines due to lack of time or commitment, so be sure to make a plan that fits your schedule and stick to it. This may even mean adjusting the time you work out from day-to-day. Even incremental workouts are helpful, so it should be easy to find times to work out to assist in stress relief.

If you find yourself overwhelmed by work, try going for a walk on your lunch break. If you feel lethargic and tired in the morning, motivate yourself to exercise first thing after waking up to give you some extra pep in your step. If you have issues getting to bed, try exercising two hours before you plan on going to sleep.

Considering all the benefits exercise has for your health, plus all the disadvantages stress has on your life, it’s easy to see how a solid workout routine can help manage stress. While it may take some practice and getting used to, once working out has become a habit, you’ll likely find your new lifestyle advantageous and even have fun getting there.

References:

Anderson, E and Shivakumar, G. Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Anxiety. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3632802/

Craft, L and Perna, F. The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC474733/

Mayo Clinic. Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469


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