Thursday, July 05, 2007

Top ten ways exercise can reduce stress


Reprinted from Body Scenes Gazette

People who exercise regularly will tell you they feel better. But why is that? Some would answer that it's because chemicals called neurotransmitters, produced in the brain, are stimulated during exercise. Since its believed that neurotransmitters mediate our moods and emotions, it's logical to conclude that this stimulation can improve feelings and reduce stress.

While there's no scientific evidence to support the neurotransmitter theory conclusively, there is plenty to show that exercise provides stress-relieving benefits. And let's face it: We could all do with less stress in our lives.

Stress can leave you feeling drained, anxious, even depressed. Fortunately, exercise has been proved to help alleviate these and many other stress-related problems. So work out your worries with a workout and sweat out that stress.

1. EXERCISE CAN MAKE YOU FEEL LESS ANXIOUS. Stress can make you feel anxious, and studies show that people feel less jittery and hyperactive following exercise.

2. EXERCISE RELAXES YOU. One exercise session generates 90 to 120 minutes of relaxation response. This post-exercise euphoria improves your mood and leaves you feeling relaxed.

3. EXERCISE INCREASES ALERTNESS. Studies have shown that when large muscle groups repeatedly contract and relax, as in yoga, the brain receives a signal to release specific neurotransmitters, which in turn make you feel relaxed and more alert.

4. EXERCISE MAKES YOU FEEL BETTER ABOUT YOURSELF. Think about those times when you've been physically active. Haven't you felt better about yourself? That feeling of self-worth contributes to stress relief.

5. EXERCISE REDUCES DEPRESSION. Some researchers believe exercise can be more effective than medication for treating depression in some people.

6. EXERCISE HELPS YOU SLEEP MORE RESTFULLY. Stress can make it difficult to get a good night's sleep, but studies show that people who exercise regularly sleep better than those who don't.

7. EXERCISE INCREASES ENERGY, WHICH CAN HELP YOU BETTER DEAL WITH STRESSFUL EVENTS. Stress can leave you tired and weary, but even a 10-minute walk can go a long way to upping your energy level. And the old adage is true-the more energy you use, the more you seem to have.

8. EXERCISE RIDS THE BODY OF STRESS-CAUSING ADRENALINE AND OTHER HORMONES. Vigorous activities such as indoor cycling and sports such as basketball are particularly effective.

9. EXERCISE ENCOURAGES YOU TO FOLLOW A HEALTHIER DIET. People who exercise regularly tend to eat more nutritious food. And its no secret that good nutrition helps your body manage stress better.

10. EXERCISE HELPS YOU TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF, WHICH CAN BE DIFFICULT TO DO WHEN YOU'RE STRESSED OUT. Whether you exercise alone or with a friend, it's important to take time for yourself during stressful periods.


Michelle here…..

Notice that the article doesn't call for heavy-duty exertion or time!

Things like qigong, or simply walking, are absolutely great, can be done almost anywhere at any time, and short amounts of exercise several times a day can be even more beneficial than a longer, more strenuous workout. Going for a swim would be fantastic, too, especially on these hot summer days!

See my previous article "How much exercise is enough?" on the benefits of just ten minutes of exercise four times a day!

Make it one of your goals to reduce stress and cultivate overall wellness holistically by getting in just ten minutes of walking or other low-impact exercise three or four times a day.

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