A Simple Explanation of How Exercise Can Help You Combat Stress
How to deal with stress?!
It’s Stress Awareness Month and for me one of the best things I can do to combat stress is exercise.
The main thing that got me hooked on training is the feeling after you’ve completed your training session. Along with feeling accomplished and happy with yourself, what else contributes to that feeling? Endorphins.
So I wanted to talk to you about how these happy hormones effectively help you deal with stress.
My history of how I dealt with stress
I am most definitely someone who is susceptible to stress. So I can fully appreciate that sometimes people need to exercise just to get it out of their system, even for an hour. That hour that gives you time to separate yourself from the real world and allows you to switch off and focus on YOU is so important when you’re stressed out.
Before I was a personal trainer, I commonly used the gym as a place to take out my frustrations from my day. Sometimes I’d head in just before the place closed so I could smash a quick 5k run just to do something after a long day at work. I wasn’t even working towards a personal best time, I’d just run as fast as I could because it made me feel better and it was the best thing for me when I only had about half an hour until they kicked me out.
Why does exercise make you feel good?
Like I said earlier, you have these things called Endorphins, something I’m sure we’ve all heard of, but what are they?
Endorphins are a type of hormone, a chemical produced by the body. They’re released from the brain in response to pain and block certain neurotransmitters and in turn, can release a hit of dopamine which makes you feel even better.
This feeling might be why you feel ‘a need’ to exercise because your body remembers how it felt last time. It also might be partially responsible for feeling like you’re addicted to exercise because you just love that feeling so much and maybe even crave it.
The science bit
Endorphins are actually a type of opioid peptide, yes you read that right. Opioids mimic the effects of these peptides. (A peptide is a short-chain amino acid, you might have heard the word peptide from your skincare.)
How do you produce endorphins with exercise in order to reduce stress?
Almost any regular exercise, deep breathing, yoga and meditation.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America “…conventional wisdom holds that a workout of low to moderate intensity makes you feel energized and healthy”
Why? Because your body doesn’t know the difference between mental and physical stress. So if you’re putting your body through a difficult workout when you feel stressed, it’s not going to bode well for your emotional state.
Believe me, I’ve literally burst into tears after failing heavy lifts because my body was already in a state of stress and I pushed it too hard in that moment.
So if you’re feeling fragile, avoid any high-intensity forms of exercise that day. Save it for another time.
If you’re wondering how you’re going to deal with stress during the current situation, dedicate at least 20 minutes a day to getting up and moving around or going for a walk and see if it makes you feel better.
If you’re doing that already, I want you to pick 3 days this week where you’re going to do a home workout and if you don’t have any session plans in mind, I’ve got something to help you out. Just taking a few hours of your week to do this will make you feel SO much better!
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