Exercise as a way of lowering your stress

Exercise increases your health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-relieving benefits.

  • It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps bump or increase the production of your brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitters, called endorphins. However, this function is sometimes referred to as the runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.
  • It’s meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and focused only on your body’s movements.

As you begin to regularly shed your every day tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the energy and optimism, as a result, can help you stabilize and precise in everything you do.

  • It improves your mood. Regular exercise can help increase your self-confidence, it can make you relax, and decrease the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise can also improve your sleep which is often disrupted by stress, depression, and anxiety. All of these exercise benefits can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.
A successful exercise program begins with a few simple steps. 
  • Consult with your doctor. If you haven’t done exercise for some time and you have health concerns, you may want to consult your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
  • Walk before your run. Build up your fitness level gradually. Excitement about a new program can lead to overdoing it and possibly even injury. Get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity.
  • Do what you love. Virtually any form of exercise or movement can increase your fitness level while decreasing your stress. The most important thing is to choose an activity where you enjoy it. Examples include walking, stair climbing, jogging, bicycling, yoga, tai chi, gardening, weightlifting, and swimming. 
  • Pencil it in. Although your schedule may necessitate a morning workout one day and an evening activity the next, carving out some time to move every day helps you make your exercise program an ongoing priority.

Whatever you’re planning to do, don’t think of exercise as one more thing on your to-do list. Find an activity that you will enjoy whether it’s an active tennis match or a meditative meander down to a local park and back and make it part of your regular routine. Any form that involves physical activity can help unwind and become an important part of your approach to relieving stress. 

If exercise could not be the way of releasing or relieving your stress, please seek help from a behavioral health professional or contact MidCities Psychiatry today

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