We can’t control everything that happens in our lives. Of course, not being able to control certain issues doesn’t stop us from worrying about them. Whether it is related to work, family issues, money problems, personal relationships, or one of the thousands of other nebulous fears that constantly keep us wide awake at night, stress is an unhappy fact of human life. Unfortunately, stress can lead to bigger problems than just a few hours of missed sleep. Aside from causing fatigue, headaches, and digestive problems, stress also contributes to depression and cardiovascular disease, which can lead to a shortened lifespan. The good news is that there are things that you can do to help lower your stress level. Exercising daily can be a great way to help keep everything in perspective, and can act as a regular stress-reducer. Here’s how:
A 30-minute workout will not erase all of life’s pressures, but it will provide a healthy outlet for anger and frustration, as well as a distraction from negative thought cycles. Do you feel like there’s nothing that you can do to face down the issues that are upsetting you? Direct that frustration at an exercise machine, and feel the catharses that comes from letting it all pour out.
Do you sometimes feel as though you’re trapped under a dark cloud of depression? Being physically active release endorphins, which act as a natural mood lifter. The effects of regular exercise on depression can be as profound as medication.
Endorphins produced by exercise also sharpen mental processes and improve concentration. Being active encourages the growth of new brain cells, which can help combat the stress related to the mental decline that many people experience as they grow older.
Exercise is an investment, not only in stress reduction and better health, but also of feeling powerful and in control. A better mood combined with an attractive appearance gives a boost in self-worth, and promotes feelings of achievement.
If you have trouble drifting off to sleep at night, there’s a good chance that the cause of your insomnia is stress. Stress often brings on sleep difficulties, which can lead to other problems if not addressed quickly. Short periods of activity in the early or middle part of the day may help a person return to normal sleep patterns. Those who prefer night exercise can perform gentle stretching or engage in yoga.
Your body is an amazing machine; the more you use it, the more efficient it becomes. Increasing the heart rate a few days per week ratchets stress down while providing a higher energy level. Even a few minutes of exercise can make a big difference. This is especially true with proper nutrition and supplementation. Some people worry that this will cost more but usually the opposite happens, healthy food is inexpensive, and while I take expensive supplements such as Progenex, you can find inexpensive ones that are adequate on Amazon.
The mental and emotional benefits of physical activity include better coping skills. When the body is not run down from overwhelming stress, it is better able to cope with life’s challenges.
Stress is hard on the body, which directly affects immune function. Chronic stress can result in more colds and flu and generally feeling tired. Exercising each day can strengthen the immune system and create a stronger defense against illness.
Stress takes a toll on relationships both at work and at home. Irritability and depression can create distance between co-workers and family members. Exercise offers the opportunity to decompress from a difficult day, allowing for positive connections with family and friends.
While increased fitness is an obvious benefit of exercise, it also removes the stigma of being overweight and not being able to keep up with others. Stress often causes overeating, and the resulting weight gain leads to more stress. Exercising regularly breaks this cycle and creates a more beautiful body to go with a happier mind.
Ryan Blair is a freelance writer who has spent 12 years in the fitness industry doing just about everything including personal training for 6 years. He now spends his time combining his love of writing with his experience in fitness. If you want to contact him you can do so at: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/ryan-blair/a5/230/674
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