If you are like most Americans, your day is filled with activity and stress seeps through every crack it can find. The idea of adding one more activity to your plate seems like it would only increase your stress levels by trying to juggle that much more. Adding an exercise regimen to your day actually does just the opposite, however, and is a major contributor to stress relief.
Effects on Stress
Moving the body results in the brain releasing endorphins, which are neuro-transmitters that can boost your mood considerably. The brain begins feeling a natural “high” with exercise. Even 10 minutes of walking can be extremely beneficial in decreasing stress levels and reversing bad moods. If you are feeling lethargic, do not think it will use up the energy you have left. In fact, taking an exercise break can actually increase your energy. It also allows the mind to focus more “in the now” in the way meditation does, which can help lift fogginess or sadness. Ongoing exercise helps to reduce anxiety and depression and can also be helpful in increased quality of sleep, reducing disruptions that are often faced when stress levels are raised.
Creating a Program
The first thing to do when beginning a new exercise program is to check with your health care practitioner to ensure you do not have restrictions to stay within. Ease into your new system so you do not overdo it or place undue stress on your body. If you do not run or have not run in years, begin with brisk walks, spotted with intervals of more vigorous activity. Slowly increase the vigor of your work outs as it feels natural.
Making It Permanent
If the idea of going to the gym makes you feel claustrophobic, then do not choose it! The key to making exercise a permanent addition to your life is to choose an activity that you enjoy. The more you enjoy yourself, the more likely you are to stick with it. Use this as an opportunity to learn something new that has always intrigued you. Do you love being outdoors and have always been in awe of rock climbers? Take climbing lessons and get to know the ropes. As long as you are moving you are reaping the benefits. Find a companion who will enjoy the activity and can keep you company as well as hold you accountable. Incorporate short-term activities that can be done throughout the day such as a walk around the block at lunch or during a break. Set your goals and keep track of your milestones to stay encouraged and focused.
Reducing stress with exercise can be an inexpensive fix that can also add an element of fun to your life. When you find yourself getting bored, mix it up and add in a new activity to replace stress with enjoyment.
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