Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Using Exercise to Reduce Stress

Daily exercise is vital to the overall well being of the human body and mind.  Without exercise, the muscles of the body begin to deteriorate and weaken and the subsequent results are a slew of problems from illness to injury, lack of motivation, as well as depression and anxiety.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise is considered to be vital for mental fitness and for reducing stress.  On their website, which can be found at adaa, they have indicated that "exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins--chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers--and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress."

If the body is not tired at the end of the day due to lack of exertion, it may not be tired enough to sleep at bedtime.  This can lead to insomnia because the body has not tired itself out enough throughout the day with physical activity to actually need rest.  Working out a little every day helps tire the body out just enough to prepare it for a good night's sleep, and improved sleep--in turn--leads to less feelings of stress and anxiety.

Exercise doesn't have to be miserable or aggressive.  Just getting out for a walk or gentle bike ride is enough to get the blood flowing and help balance out one's breathing and oxygen flow.  Walking on a treadmill or running on an elliptical machine can help get the heart rate up, and lifting weights has been shown to help burn an increased number of calories, which is always helpful for overall heath.

So, when you're looking for ways to manage stress and anxiety, be sure you have not overlooked putting some physical activity on your daily schedule.  As long as your doctor feels your body is up to it, exercise certainly can't hurt.

Thanks to Bill Brooks for his great photo - Running