Regular and consistent exercise can not only alleviate stress, anxiety and various other health problems, but also contribute to overall health and a feeling of well-being.
Causes of stress
For most people, stress is an everyday occurrence. Exams to write, deadlines to keep, rush hour traffic to negotiate with and so on. Most of these so-called “external” factors that cause stress can’t be avoided. If they can’t be avoided, then it would be a good idea to manage stress by avoiding situations that will cause stress as much as possible. Limit the risk, so to speak. If that can’t be done, then manage the body’s reaction to stress to be able to handle stress and anxiety better.
Coping with stress and the effects of stress need not be complicated or expensive. A simple program of regular exercise is all it takes to reduce stress-related health problems. Exercise can even help offset some “internal” causes of stress, which are related to one’s frame of mind and outlook on life.
How exercise relieves stress and anxiety
Exercise essentially burns away chemicals like cortisol and norepinephrine that cause stress. At the same time, vigorous exercise releases endorphins, morphine-like hormones responsible for the feeling of elation, or well-being that distance runners get from running. Other chemicals like dopamine and serotonin are also released in the brain during exercise. Together, these chemicals can create positive feelings that offset some of the “internal” causes of stress, such as uncertainty, pessimism and negative self-talk.
Exercise can also have a meditative effect during sustained cardiovascular workouts. The rhythm of running on the open road or treadmill can relax and clear the mind. Clearing the mind allows for a fresh approach to perplexing and stressful problems.
To benefit from exercise, it needs to be part of a daily routine. Instead of working during lunch, why not take the time to go for a brisk walk, a run or work out at a gym? Regular exercise will not only make you healthier, but will cut down on stress and anxiety and their associated symptoms.