Nothing can beat regular exercise as a stress-busting technique. The result of the ‘fight or fight’ reaction is that our bodies go into a state of high arousal but there is often nowhere for that energy to go, so our bodies can stay in this state for hours at a time. Exercise is the best way to dissipate the excess energy, especially if you have a sedentary job.
It’s a good idea to channel your energy into proper exercise, be it a brisk walk, a run, a bike ride or a game of squash. You don’t need to join a gym exercise can be as informal as taking the dog for a walk, or dancing at home to your favorite music.
Experts recommend that we exercise at a moderate intensity for a minimum of 30 minutes, most days of the week. And there are many reasons to do so. Exercise not only improves health and reduces stress, it also relaxes tense muscles and helps you to sleep. It causes the release of chemicals called endorphins into your bloodstream, making you feel relaxed and happy. As such, it can be a helpful tool in fighting depression and anxiety, as well as keeping you trim and reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke, managing high blood pressure, diabetes and back pain. All in all, fit people are better able to handle the long-term effects of stress without suffering ill health.
What To Choose
Walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, aerobics classes or DVDs, and dancing are all great forms of exercise. If you choose something you enjoy, it won’t feel like a chore.
It is also a good idea to vary your activities to avoid boredom. For example, if you normally exercise indoors, try an outdoor activity.
Exercise should be fun. It’s difficult to keep going with an exercise program that you don’t enjoy. Exercising with a friend might encourage you to keep it up longer, and try activities that will make you forget you’re exercising, such as roller-skating or flying a kite.
If you find yourself making excuses, write them down and assess each one. Perhaps you say:
- I don’t have the time/money.
- I am not the sporty type/no good at exercise.
- I don’t enjoy exercise.
- I am too old/tired/overweight/self-conscious.
- There are no facilities close by.
- I can’t be bothered.
However, exercise doesn’t have to take place at the gym or on a treadmill. Anyone can exercise even without spending money, leaving the house or having a particular skill. And everyone feels better afterwards. Just remember to warm up and cool down, to avoid injury.