Fight stress with…you guessed it, exercise!

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The next couple of weeks are going to be really busy, so I’m partially writing this post because I need to “gently” remind myself that I need to take care of myself before I let things go too far. I was very active on my vacation and tried to eat as healthy as I could but things always seem to be super busy after a trip. We all know that exercise can help transform the way our body looks or help us maintain it. It’s also one of the top ways to fight stress.

How stress works

After something stressful happens, a series of changes to your body helps you prep for a physical effort. Your heart beats faster, your breathing becomes more rapid, muscles get tense, and your blood pressure goes up. Your blood sugar also rises so that you have access to quick energy.

This response was designed to help our ancestors survive their environment. Back then, you released tension when you ran away from an animal’s attack or fought to survive the elements, or whatever danger was present. Today, the things that cause regular stress don’t typically call for a physical response. For example, if you’re late for work or school because of traffic, transit delays or an elevator breakdown, you end up carrying the extra tension because you can’t do anything about it. That feeling can stay with you for a while unless you release it the way nature intended, and working out can do it.

Almost any kind of exercise can help you release tension. You can try a short walk or go up and down the stairs when you start feeling tense. If you can’t leave your area until later, stand up, walk around, or do some stretches wherever you are. It can make a difference.

Exercise regularly to prevent stress

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A physically fit body is more adept at withstanding stress, so make working out a regular part of your life. To work for stress prevention, schedule in at least 30 minutes of exercise, a minimum of three times a week.

Exercise that increases your heart rate for at least 20 minutes releases hormones in the brain that help reduce stress and some forms of depression. Examples include running, swimming, cycling or weight training. Yoga can also help by stretching and relaxing your muscle.

Pick something you enjoy

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There are many options available to bring exercise into your life on a regular basis. Here are just a few.

  • Little expense or equipment: running outdoors, dancing, brisk walks, yoga, or Pilates.
  • Some equipment: running indoors, swimming, cycling, strength training.
  • If you need motivation: take a class, workout with a friend, or if it’s in your budget, hire a trainer.

In the meantime, make some small changes. The next time you feel like you’re getting angry because someone has just given you something else to do that you don’t have enough time for or criticized something about you, take a 10-minute walk. It can relieve some of your tension and help you be able to deal with the situation a little more calmly.

Keep going with it, even if you feel like it’s too much to workout with the amount of stress in your life.

If you read enough of my posts, you’ll find that a lot of them are reminders of things I’ve done to help me stay on my path to fabulousness…I backslide and need to get back on course. It’s a continued work in progress. But I never give up!

 

38 replies »

  1. i really like this, it is so true! for instance i was super stressed yesterday, didnt think anything could calm me down and after i had been to the gym i found i was quite relieved and a lot more cheerful than what i was before. 🙂

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  2. This is so sooo so true that I cannot emphasise enough how true it is that whenever in doubt workout. I love working out. There is yet to be a workout that I have done and felt bad about it. In fact the only workout I have ever felt bad about were the ones I did not do.

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  3. Small, incremental steps are always good. Running a marathon or maxing out on deadlifts might be counter-productive if we’re under a great deal of stress in other areas of our life, however, stressing out bodies to some degree helps build resilience that can transfer to other spheres of our life.

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    • Thanks for sharing Adam! Awesome points. I did try the “maxing out on deadlifts” once when I was stressed and you’re right, it was counter-productive. I learned quickly after that mistake! Thanks for your comment. Have a wonderful day!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I do the same as you. I find the consistency is better, and I know I can fit that amount of time into even my busiest day. Any less than 3 days and you’re not really getting all the benefits. Thanks so much for sharing what works for you! Have a wonderful day!

      Liked by 1 person

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