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Does exercise really reduce stress? 12 years 2 months ago #7

  • brainstorm
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A high-impact yes! In fact, I can't think of a better stress-reducer than exercise, for several reasons. First, let's make sure we're on the same treadmill about our definition of "exercise." The U.S. Department of Health recommends increased and sustained cardiovascular elevation for 15 - 30 minutes, 3 - 4 times a week. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 20 - 60 minutes of aerobic exercise (same thing), 3 - 5 times a week for optimal fitness, with 2 - 3 strength workouts per week.

Now, before you run in the other direction, let me dazzle you with some of the health-promoting and stress-controlling benefits of aerobic activity. Most notably, this type of exercise strengthens your heart and lungs. These two vital organs -- especially the heart -- bare the brunt of the body's physiological stress response, constantly being called upon to "fight or flee" from job, school, family, financial, relationship, and every other kind of stress, that we are confronted with on a daily basis. Aerobic exercise also burns off stress hormones that would otherwise linger like toxins in a waste dump. Meditation, yoga, massage, and friends are great, but none rid us of tension-induced chemicals that we don't need to have hanging around.

There is another exercise benefit: appropriate weight loss and maintenance. In and of itself, that is a very healthy goal. But, for many of us, looking good also means feeling good. Exercise improves physical appearance and enhances self-esteem, self-confidence, and other mental health goodies. Habitual exercisers report more energy and a better ability to concentrate. Oh, and we can't forget about improved quality of sleep, reduced stress reactivity (not getting as stressed out about things as you usually do), and, yes, maybe even slowing the aging process!

Now, I know that this exercise-as-stress-manager thing is easier said than done, so I'll provide you with these strategies that have helped many would be health-seekers to start and stick with their exercise programs:
  • Begin slowly. If you are not used to exercising, start out with 10 - 15 minutes twice a week and build up from there.
  • Snag a workout partner -- there's nothing like the motivation of another sweaty, panting humanoid to keep you going.
  • Last, but not least, make your workout sessions regular and real. Schedule them in your calendar just as you record business appointments, classes, and social engagements. Exercise is just as important as all of them!
  • And, before I forget, if you are 35 or older, have any heart trouble or blood pressure problems, or other medical conditions, you will want to get a medical clearance from your physician.
By the way, your exercise options are wide open, and you don't have to join a gym to partake. Walking briskly, running, biking (mountain if it sustains your heart rate), dancing, swimming, calisthenics, playing tennis or basketball, and cross-country skiing are just a few possibilities.

In addition to exercise, try to take breaks from your high-stress job. Walk around outside, take lunch, or sit in the bathroom for a few minutes if that's the only way to get away. Just a few breathers during a hectic day can go a long way toward stress relief.

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- Brian
Last edit: by brainstorm.

Re: Does exercise really reduce stress? 12 years 3 weeks ago #12

  • libernet
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My experience leads me to think it does. I've been working out at a local Crossfit box for about 15 months, and I find I'm less tense, and a bit more patient. I've been documenting my experiences on my blog .

The workouts are pretty intense. Maybe that's the secret. But anyway I do think exercise helps reduce stress.

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Re: Does exercise really reduce stress? 11 years 3 months ago #71

  • marlon25
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Hello Guys i think that not only physical exercise reduce your level of stress but also make you more powerful in managing stress.Thanks a lot!!


orange county fitness

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Re: Does exercise really reduce stress? 11 years 3 months ago #73

  • brainstorm
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I think you're right. I find that when I exercise regularly, it's easy to keep it up, but any break in exercising makes it hard to get started again.

How do you stay motivated?

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- Brian
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