Exercise is an effective and natural means of reducing stress. It has many positive physiological effects, which include but are not limited to decreasing blood pressure, increasing bone density, decreasing muscle tension, improving cardio vascular efficiency, it slows the aging process and improves sleep and immune function.
Interestingly, exercise itself is a form of stress but when incorporated appropriately it functions to condition the body to deal with stress and further reduce stress by way of the parasympathetic rebound effect. Sound complicated? Not really. That means that before exercising, there is a level of stress in the body, exercise increases the level of stress temporarily and once exercise has been ceased stress levels drop below baseline or original stress levels. This effect is only temporary and almost immediately begins to climb back to the original stress level so it is important to incorporate physical exercise several times a week to maintain the rebound effect.
While some exercise is better than no exercise it is important to keep in mind that exercise as a form of stress management is most effective when integrating a few simple principals. These comprise of; frequency of exercise, the intensity of exercise, the amount of time spent exercising and the type of exercising. Remarkably, these same principals hold true for improving one’s overall fitness. Bonus!
Some indirect benefits that reduce stress resulting from exercise are improved self-esteem, feeling good about your body and its ability, and improve mental alertness. Another Bonus!
If you are new to exercise consult a physician and start slowly. Pick an activity that you enjoy. This will make it easier to maintain. Schedule your workouts. It is important to put yourself on your to do list! Exercise with friends. This will make exercise social and enjoyable and perhaps make you more accountable! Never go to the gym or start exercising without a plan! Feeling like a workout is time consuming and inefficient is stressful. Set goals, but please be realistic. If you are interested in fat loss losing 1-2lbs a week is a healthy goal. Finally, if in doubt – Hire a trainer. The benefits of hiring a trainer include:
• A trainer will conduct a fitness assessment
• Identify muscle imbalances and help correct them
• Create a plan and strategy to make it to your goals
• Make your workout time efficient
• Learning opportunity
• Keeps it fresh so you don’t get board
If you would like more information, please feel to stop in and see me for a free fitness consult. I look forward to seeing you
Buffy Mills, BA (psych), CPT