5 Surprising Ways Working Out Helps Relieve Stress
Everyone comes to a point in life where they go through some level of stress. For most of us, it’s something that’s a part of our daily life. It’s that unavoidable. Sometimes dealing with stress can be a very overwhelming experience and might lead to bigger issues like depression or anxiety. People who come up with ways to cope with stress tend to stay healthy and happy.
Depression and anxiety problems are not as rare as we think they are. Infact, according to a recent ADAA survey on stress and anxiety disorders, seven out of ten adults in the United States claim that they experience stress or anxiety everyday, and for most of them, it affects their daily life moderately.
Stress can have a huge impact on your health. The American Psychological Association conducted a survey in 2008 which revealed that more people reported physical and emotional symptoms due to stress than they did in 2007, and almost half of them said that their stress has increased in the past year.
The source of stress can not be eliminated, but you can learn to manage the way you deal with it. Stress management techniques are usually expensive or time consuming. If you think you cannot afford it, try adding a simple exercise program to your routine. It can do wonders when dealing with the stresses of everyday life and the best part is that you can easily tailor it in your busy schedule. According to an ADAA online poll, at least 14 percent of people choose regular exercise to cope with stress.
Here are 5 ways exercise can help you relieve stress:
“Feel good” Hormones
Hormones control what you feel. Engaging in physical activity causes your body to increase its production of endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals that lift your mood, make you feel good and provide an overall sense of happiness.
They also act as natural analgesics and can reduce feelings of pain. You must have wondered why you feel energized and euphoric after a good workout, so it’s most likely because of the release of endorphins in your body.
Endorphins usually reach their peak levels about one hour after you’ve finished exercising. It is often referred to as ‘runner’s high’ euphoria which is experienced during and post exercise.
Physical activity also releases another hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is partly responsible for making you feel happy and for good sleep. A positive mood helps you to be optimistic towards life and make better decisions.
Reduces Anxiety and Depression
Exercise can be used as a means to relax yourself because it tends to be uplifting to your body in both behaviour and chemical ways. In addition to releasing happy hormones like endorphins and serotonin, sports and exercise makes it easier for you to escape stress through distraction.
When you keep yourself busy, your mind gets distracted from all those triggers in your life that take you in a state of depression, allowing you to relax. Stress manifests physically in your body with tense muscles, headaches and back pain. Almost any exercise can help you beat stress, but rhythmic and repetitive movements are especially beneficial to help with relieving muscle tension and improving relaxation.
Anxiety is experienced when you build up feelings of anger, fear or phobias. This is largely caused because of hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine. Cortisol is a hormone that is released in your body when you are experiencing stress. If your body does not use up cortisol, it can cause irritability and may eventually make you prone to stress related illnesses. Exercise makes your body absorb cortisol, which gives your body an elated feeling, thus leading to a reduction in anxiety.
Use exercise as a way to get some solitude and ‘me-time’, or better yet participate in a team sport. Give a try to yoga, or rhythmic exercises like swimming or cycling and focus on getting through each movement smoothly. See what works out best for you.
People who are under alot of stress can have insomnia. It becomes difficult to fall asleep and to stay asleep as stress affects the quality of your sleep. You will lie in bed, preoccupied with so many thoughts, worrying and feeling anxious, making it almost impossible to relax and quiet your mind to fall asleep. Stress can also give rise to hyperarousal, which disrupts the balance between sleep and wakefulness.
Research shows that commiting to regular exercise can improve your sleeping habits. If you don’t get enough sleep for 2-3 days, you might notice a developing negative sleep cycle pattern. As a result, you lack energy and have a heightened sense of anxiety. You can’t concentrate on anything and get exhausted, and this goes on.
Exercise lets you break this cycle and makes you feel less stressed and more in control of your life. It can improve the quality of your sleep. Studies show that exercise can contribute to more sound and restful sleep.
Exercise also lets you sleep longer. This is because exercise uses up energy and helps you feel more tired and prepared to rest at the end of the day. Physical activity also increases the time duration spent in “deep sleep”. Deep sleep relieves stress and anxiety in addition to boosting immunity and cardiac health.
Boost to Self-esteem
Self-esteem means the opinion that you have of yourself. A high self-esteem is essential to deal with stressful situations. A study published in The Scientific World Journal showed that women going through stressful situations had a remarkable improvement in self-esteem with increased aerobic activity.
Exercising regularly can give a boost to your self-confidence and self-esteem along with relieving your stress. When your body undergoes physical improvement through exercise like losing weight, becoming more toned, and increasing endurance, you also improve emotionally. You develop better self-assurance and a sense of control that contributes in reducing anxiety and stress. The achievement of a better physical body translates into mental satisfaction.
Improves Social Interaction
Good social interactions can have a positive impact on your mental health. Physical exercise can also provide opportunities for good experiences with other people. When you get involved in physical activity, like a run in the park or a workout at the gym, you find dozens of people who have similar interests as you.
Socializing can help boost your mood and decrease stress levels. Moreover, having a workout partner will give you that added motivation to keep yourself committed to a workout routine. People who find other people as partners, are more likely to show up to their workout session and less likely to skip the gym.
Start by participating in a class at a local gym, or joining a fitness group at work. Find a workout buddy to help encourage you while you exercise. If you like to work out alone, then even a simple hi or a smile to another gym member can bring positive feelings.
Byline/About the Author: Lisa Brown has been helping her readers in successful business and entrepreneurial strategies for the past 3 years. She currently works with Ekuep , which is the first online store in the Middle East that caters to the foodservice industry. It sells kitchen equipment, restaurant equipment, and food service equipment that are made by leading brands from all over the world. These machines and tools are trusted by all restaurant and cafe owners from across the world.