Can Exercise Really Relieve Stress?

If you’re wound so tight that your stress is even stressing you out, it’s time to quit screaming at the dog and kicking the furniture and take some control. The easiest thing to do to get some relief is to exercise. When you workout, changes are made to your body that counter the hormones that creates the anxiety, fear, anger, sadness, or frustration that comes with stress.

Exercise can relieve stress by burning off the hormones created to prepare your body for running or fighting.

Primitive man needed the fight or flight stress response to survive. When an enemy or danger is perceived by the brain, it creates the production of hormones—messengers—to all parts of the body to send more blood to the extremities for running or fighting. The heart rate is increased, blood pressure goes up and even the pupils are dilated to see better. The blood is diverted from areas where it’s not necessary for the two actions of running or fighting, like the stomach. That leaves you with the sick feeling stress often brings. Muscle tension increases, sometimes leaving you trembling if you don’t take action. Exercise tricks the body into thinking you ran or fought and burns off those hormones, putting it back into a more relaxed state.

Times change and so do stressors.

While some stress may come from dangerous situations or a need to fight or run, most stress occurs in everyday situations, such as traffic jams, angry customers, time constraints and even crowded, uncomfortable situations. There’s no benefit or logical reason to run or fight. Sometimes, danger can be perceived and not even real. If you’ve ever watched a scary movie or awaken from a nightmare in a cold sweat, you probably understand that. Your brain doesn’t discriminate whether it’s real or just perceived. It sends out the hormones regardless.

Exercise does more than just burn off the stress hormones.

Whether you’re running, pacing, pressing weights or doing calisthenics, not only is your body burning stress hormones, it’s replacing them with ones that make you feel good. You’ve probably heard of a runner’s high, well it comes with all types of exercise and is created by hormones that stimulate the feeling of well-being and happiness. Exercise also boosts circulation and sends oxygen and nutrient laden blood to all parts of the body. It helps relieve muscle tension, allowing you to relax. Think about the last time you worked out. You may have started out stiff and tight, but ended the workout with a relaxed tightness gone, muscles and a bigger range of motion.

  • Recent studies show that your beneficial gut bacteria play an influential role in your mood. Other studies show that the more you exercise, the beneficial gut bacteria you develop.
  • Exercise is frequently used as a complementary treatment for anxiety, depression and stress. If you’re feeling stressed out, run up and down stairs or pace until you’re tired and see if you don’t feel better.
  • Eating healthy is another way to help prevent stress. If you eat sugar, it can send your blood sugar skyrocketing, making you jittery. When it ultimately crashes, you’re apt to get cranky unless you workout.
  • Exercise can help you to take your mind off the problems and focus on each movement, or sometimes, just focus on the moment, much as meditation does.

For more information, contact us today at Jari Love

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