Let’s face it, we know stress isn’t healthy. And, while we can’t always avoid the triggers that cause stress, we can find healthy ways to cope with it. Did you know exercise helps? The benefits of exercise extend beyond our physical health. On average, adults who regularly engage in exercise also report better overall mood, increased self-esteem and less stress. Consider these positive effects:
Mood improvement: Regular exercise can help reduce rates of anxiety and depression and improve quality of sleep. It can also help you feel better about yourself; you may even feel more relaxed or less irritated than when you started.
Good feelings: Any type of exercise or body movement counts. Engage in physical activities that make you feel happy when you’re doing them. Try making a list of activities that you enjoy and scheduling them into your calendar just as you would a meeting or appointment.
Tension relief: Exercise produces chemicals in the brain called endorphins. Often referred to as a “runner’s high,” endorphins are released during any type of physical activity and can act as a natural painkiller. When you use exercise time to concentrate on yourself, your muscles, your movement and your breathing, it may help relieve some of the stress you accumulated over the course of your day.
Studies show that even short bouts of exercise can help reduce stress levels, so it doesn’t take long to feel the positive effects of a short walk or light stretching. The next time you find yourself feeling stressed, remember that exercise is an effective way to increase your mental fitness.
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Sources (accessed 4/14/2022):
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Exercise for Stress and Anxiety.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Physical Activity Reduces Stress.
Mayo Clinic. Stress Management. Updated 3/8/2018.