We all stress. Whether it be over school, work, the rapidly approaching holidays, we all have those moments where we panic and worry. Stress can be detrimental to the body and mind. The more you stress the worse you will feel. It can make you have absolutely no motivation, it can cause headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure, heart attacks, stomach issues, and affect your susceptibility. There may not be a way to completely eliminate all the stress in your life but you can 100% combat it and help reduce the majority of it. There are still going to be be small moments when you will stress but you will notice with exercising regularly, those moments get smaller and smaller each time.
According to the American Psychological Association, a whopping 75 percent of people in the United States feel stressed out. Almost half of us eat unhealthy because of it; 47 percent of us can’t sleep because of it; it makes one in three of us depressed; and for 42 percent of us, it has gotten worse in the last year.
So we all hear it. Exercising can help reduce stress. Great endorphins wohoo! But how does it really help? And what kind of exercise does it require?
When exercising, the body’s stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) are reduced while endorphins (natural painkillers) are increased. Cardiovascular activity helps to increase blood to the brain. More blood being pumped to the brain means more oxygen. An increase in oxygen leads to better nourished brain cells. Scientists have recently discovered that a vigorous workout can cause the brain cells to become more active and boost the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).The proteins role is to reduce the breaking down of brain cells caused by stress. Regular exercise leads to improved health, better sleep, and more energy which in turn can lead to a boost in self-confidence and a sense of command over body and life.
Running, walking, yoga, martial arts, weight lifting, fitness classes, etc. are all forms of exercise. You can mix it up or stick with just one, it is completely up to you. The key is consistency. You can’t work out once a week or two days every other week and reap the benefits. Try working out anywhere from 3-5 days a week. Your workout can be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. Make sure during your workout your heart rate increases. For example: if you are going to do a 20 minute walk, make sure for those 20 minutes your breathing is heavier than normal and that if someone where to talk to you it would be a bit of a challenge to answer. You can also do a tempo workout, where you increase your walking speed for a specific amount of time (3 minutes) and decrease it to where you can comfortably hold a conversation with someone (1 minute) and repeat this for the full workout. This is great for anyone starting back up with exercising.
Again, the key is consistency. So stop making excuses and letting stress get the better of you. Do something about it! It doesn’t even have to take up an hour of your time!