Stress takes an enormous toll on us mentally and physically. Mentally it can cause feelings of agitation, feelings of sadness or defeat, lack of concentration, and depression. Physically it can cause panic attacks, loss of sleep, tight muscles, headaches, and weight gain. You can’t control stressful situations, but you can control your response to them. Exercise is a vital tool to assist you in reducing stress and improving mood. It can help you regain confidence and a sense of control over a situation and your life.
According to the ADAA even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects. Find some types of exercise that you can easily integrate into your life. Some examples include, walking, swimming, group fitness, biking, or dancing. Even lower intensity exercises like yoga, housework and gardening are a good way to remove your self from a stressful situation and improve your attitude and overall well-being.
A recent study from the Harvard Medical School cited: ‘Aerobic exercise is the key for your head, just as it is for your heart. It has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress.’
Some primary benefits of regular, vigorous physical activity:
- Release of endorphins that decrease stress hormones (i.e. adrenaline and cortisol).
- Increases energy levels.
- Improves your physical appearance.
- Burns calories and reduces body fat.
- Promotes more restful sleep.
- Balances blood sugar levels.
- Elevates your self-esteem.