Yes, it's true, exercise does a body good, but it is also true that virtually any kind of exercise can reduce stress as well. Exercise improves your overall health and sense of well-being. Some of the direct stress reducing benefits you will see from exercising will be:
Increased Endorphin Production - Endorphins are the feel-good neurotransmitters produced by the brain. Often referred to as a "runner's high," other forms of exercise such as a hike or playing soccer can contribute to the same feeling.
Exercise can be meditative - I often get this feeling after swimming laps in the pool. You are "in the moment" focusing on your form and breathing, therefore not giving into mindless thoughts and distractions from your day's stresses. Your tensions will slowly dissipate leaving you with a clearer mind and more positive outlook.
Exercise can help to improve your mood - Regular exercise can increase confidence and lower symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. This can ease your levels of stress and give you a sense of control over your body and life.
How do I get started?
First, you'll want to consult your doctor. Remember to gradually build up your program; you'll be more likely to stick to it if you don't overdo it in the beginning. Do what you love. Exercise should be fun and you are more likely to continue to do something that you enjoy rather than dread.
Pick a time and stick to it. Consider it like an appointment to yourself, your health, and your well-being. Schedule it in if you have to. Set some goals and strive to achieve them. Find a friend to help keep each other motivated, and change up your routine often to keep your body guessing and to keep things exciting.
Corinna Maggy is a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 605-3549. The information contained within Health Matters is not a substitute for professional medical examination, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician before starting an exercise program or beginning any nutritional regimen.