Chronic stress creates aging, weight gain, illness and disease. In other words…stress makes us sick, fat, tired, old and ugly! While many people attempt to relieve stress by overeating, overspending, drinking, drugs or engaging in reckless behaviour, there are healthier ways to prevent the wear and tear chronic stress can cause.
Journaling, meditation, spending time with friends, listening to music and laughing are just a few. What’s a stress reliever that tops the charts? Here are 10 reasons why exercise needs to be part of your Stress Prevention Plan.
1. A Long, Sustained Workout: During a long cardio workout (walking, jogging, running, riding a bike, etc.) you flood your body with “feel good” endorphins; neurotransmitters released from the brain which reduce the perception of pain and the negative effects from prolonged stress. This endorphin release reacts with the opiate receptors in your brain-the same receptors people want to ignite when taking pain medication or recreational drugs. The difference? Releasing endorphins through exercise is good for you!
2. Cardio: The rhythmic and repetitive movement of a long cardio session creates a sense of peace and calm by providing a meditative and relaxing effect on your body. It also creates the perfect environment for nagging thoughts and unfinished issues (which create stress) to have an opportunity to be brought to the surface and thought through.
3. Yoga: During a yoga session or other practice like Qigong, Tai Chi or simply stretching, the intention is to focus and connect with the breath. These deep breathing and slower moving activities trigger a sense of wellbeing and calm while helping to reduce pain, tightness, stiffness and tension.
4. Kickboxing, Martial Arts: These types of workouts provide the perfect opportunity to take out your aggression as you punch and kick. Feel free to envision whatever (and whoever) may be contributing to your stress on the other end of those punches.
5. Dance, Zumba: Dancing is energizing, fun and as you “shake what your mama gave you” to your favourite music it’s almost impossible to feel stressed and anxious because dancing encourages you to feel emotionally lighter, sexy and free.
6. Active Play: Activities like roller blading, using a hula-hoop, rebounding (jumping on a mini-trampoline) or jumping rope brings us right back to those carefree days when we were kids. They’re also great ways to reduce your stress as you get fit and have fun at the same time.
7. Competitive Sports: Participating in competitive sports like tennis, racquetball or basketball are great stress relievers because they engage us in a social situation while also engaging us mentally and emotionally. They put us in an environment where we need to put our stress aside in order to focus on “bringing our game” to the activity.
8. Circuit Training, Boot Camp, CrossFit, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training): Working out at a higher intensity demands your focus and concentration. When you’re concentrating on an intense interval or exercise, you’re distracted from focusing on your stress.
9. Any Type of Exercise: improves your mood, level of confidence and even reduces symptoms of depression because engaging in exercise gives us a greater sense of control. Feeling as if we have no control over our lives creates an enormous amount of stress, anxiety and fear. Exercise provides an opportunity for us to control a portion of our lives; helping to reduce feelings of chaos and overwhelm.
10. Self-care: While you’re taking care of everyone else, who’s taking care of you? Exercise is a way to show yourself some self-care, self love and as you take better care of yourself through exercise you have more energy, strength, patience and motivation to giving your time and attention to those within your care and reach.
Which type of exercise brings you the greatest stress relief? I’d love to know, comment and share!