Nearly everyone knows that regular physical exercise is one of the most recommended ways to maintain or improve health. It’s obvious that physical exercise helps the body to develop muscle, supports heart health, and of course, helps people lose excess weight. But many people don’t fully appreciate the benefits exercise can have on one’s mental health. With the fast pace of the world today, it’s even more important to pay attention to stress levels and understand how exercise helps stress.
By understanding how exercise helps stress, you can be equipped to make healthy choices to manage your stress naturally.
Our society seems to be moving faster and faster with each passing year. This ultra-fast pace can bring about stress in the most resilient of people. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce stress. One of the most recommended ways to reduce stress is through exercise.
While many might already be aware of the benefits of exercise, it can be helpful to know more about how exercise helps stress.
How Exercise Helps Stress | It improves sleep
Regular exercise can be a natural remedy for insomnia. One theory is that the post-workout drop in temperature can promote falling asleep. Another theory is that exercise influences the body’s circadian rhythm. If you’re looking for a way to improve your sleep, try incorporating regular exercise into your routine.
How Exercise Helps Stress | It boosts endorphins
Endorphins are neurotransmitters in our brain that make us feel good. With regular exercise, our brain releases more of these endorphins, giving us a natural “high”. Rather than relying on food or alcohol to improve your mood, try going for a jog, or having an impromptu dance party. Even a few minutes of exercise can elevate your spirits for hours.
How Exercise Helps Stress | It can be a form of meditation
Many already know that yoga can be a great form of meditation. But, some people don’t realize that just about any form of exercise can also promote mindfulness. Rather than thinking about the stressful day you had, or the challenges you might be facing, exercise forces you to focus on your breathing and on your body, in the present moment. It is the perfect escape.
How Exercise Helps Stress | It increases self-confidence
How you view yourself has an impact on countless moments throughout your day. If your self-view is negative, these moments can all bring about feelings of stress. Regular exercise increases self-confidence which can help you push those thoughts of inadequacy far away.
How Exercise Helps Stress | It enhances physical well-being
Physical imbalances can cause pain and stiffness in the body. When you exercise regularly (and strategically), you can promote balance in your body, which can reduce that pain. For example, you might find that by strengthening certain muscles, you can reduce joint pain in the surrounding area.
How Exercise Helps Stress | It builds physical stamina
Through regular exercise, you can develop stamina needed for everyday life. From chasing little ones around the yard to lifting heavy items at work, regular physical exercise allows you to do these things with energy.
How Exercise Helps Stress | It improves alertness and concentration
Life requires a certain level of alertness and concentration. Whether you work or stay at home with little ones, an inability to concentrate can lead to chaos and stress. Regular exercise improves levels of alertness and concentration, thereby allowing you to perform better in your responsibilities.
How Exercise Helps Stress | It trains your brain
Another way that regular exercise helps stress is that it actually trains your brain to release stress hormones in smaller amounts. Cortisol and norepinephrine are both stress hormones that the brain releases in response to stressful situations. In large amounts, these hormones can wreak havoc on the body.
Regular exercise helps to reduce the intensity of these hormones, thereby reducing your stress response in other instances.
How Exercise Helps Stress | It can be social
While exercising alone can be peaceful and meditative, exercising with a friend yields its own benefits too. It encourages social connection and relationships (which also reduces stress), helps you stay accountable to your exercise jog, and also motivates you to challenge yourself in your workout.
How Exercise Helps Stress | It should never be punishment
There are many things to know about how exercise helps stress. But one of the most important things to realize is that exercise should never be viewed as “punishment” for your body (or for what you ate).
It should always be a way for you to retreat from the chaos of life, focus on your beautiful body, and appreciate it for all that it does for you. With that, it’s important to find a form of exercise that you enjoy.