It’s Stress Awareness Month and so we wanted to talk about moving more and reducing stress. We know that getting active is not easy in this profession. Being behind the wheel for long hours leaves little room to stretch your legs. This can sometimes lead to a build-up of tension and stress. Fortunately, we have some simple steps to help you relieve such feelings.
Many of these steps can also help improve your overall health as well, including your mental health. Exercise is one of the best strategies for combating stress and supporting your mental wellbeing. Getting active can help lower your overall stress levels and improve your quality of life, both mentally and physically. It can also improve the quality of your sleep, which can be negatively impacted by stress, depression, and anxiety. Another positive is that it can also boost your confidence levels.
How Does Exercise Help with Stress?
Getting active, even if it is just a short walk, improves your body’s ability to use oxygen and also improves blood flow. Both of these changes have a direct effect on your brain. Exercise also increases your brain’s production of endorphins. Endorphins are the “feel-good” neurotransmitters that can boost your mood and help you build healthy habits.
Physical activity can also help take your mind off your worries. The repetitive motions involved in exercise promote a focus on your body, rather than your mind. By concentrating on the rhythm of your movements, you experience many of the same benefits of meditation. Focusing on a single physical task can produce a sense of energy and optimism. This focus can also help provide calmness and clarity.
Some people notice an improvement in their mood immediately after getting some exercise. But the great thing is these feelings aren’t just a one-time thing, they build up over time and boost your mood. Stress Awareness Month is a great time to start considering what you can do for yourself to help reduce stress.
In addition to having a direct effect on your stress levels, regular exercise also promotes optimum health in other ways. Improvements to your overall health may help to indirectly moderate your stress levels.
Among some of its additional benefits, exercise can help:
- Strengthen your muscles and bones
- Boost your immunity, which can decrease your risk of illness and infection
- Lower your blood pressure, sometimes as much as some antihypertensive medications
- Increase levels of good cholesterol in your blood
- Improve your blood circulation
Help you sleep better at night
What Types of Exercise Help with Stress?
There are many ways to get moving but what are some of the most effective?
You don’t need to be a marathon runner or elite athlete to experience stress relief from exercise. Almost any kind of exercise can be helpful.
For example, consider trying moderate aerobic exercises such as:
- Playing tennis or other racquet sports
Even something as simple as gardening or choosing to take the stairs rather than the elevator can give you an emotional lift. Any type of exercise can increase your fitness and decrease your stress. However, it’s important to choose an activity that you enjoy rather than dread. If you don’t like the water, don’t choose swimming as your activity. If the thought of running makes you anxious, training for a 5K race won’t help relieve your stress. Try a variety of activities until you find some you enjoy. When you’re having fun, you’ll be more likely to stick with your workout routine.
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