The last few weeks and 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. We’re still in quarantine in Toronto for the most part, so gyms aren’t open yet. I’m still doing at home workouts when I can. I am finding that I like them more and more as time passes! I’m starting to fight stress with exercise.
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
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
There are many options available to bring exercise into your life on a regular basis. Here are just a few. You should be able to incorporate a or most of these even if you have quarantine in your area – like we do where I live.
- Little expense or equipment: running outdoors, dancing, brisk walks, yoga, or Pilates.
- Some equipment: running indoors,cycling, strength training.
- If you need motivation: take a class, workout with a friend, or if it’s in your budget, hire a trainer (you can do all of these virtually).
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…I backslide and need to get back on course. It’s a continued work in progress. But I never give up!
If you need more fitness motivation, check out some of my other posts.