Everyone knows that exercising is good for your physical health, but did you know it also increases your mental and emotional health as well? One of the simplest treatments for stress is physical activity. It’s true that when you are feeling maxed out, working out may be the last thing you think to add to your schedule. But if you regularly find yourself overwhelmed and stressed, exercise may be just the remedy you need. So how does it work? Here are four specific ways that exercising reduces your stress level and keeps you in a healthy frame of mind.
Exercise Addresses the Physical Symptoms of Stress
Stress brings a host of physical ailments. Tense muscles, headaches, and restlessness are common signs that your brain is overloaded. Exercise is an excellent way to relieve those uncomfortable symptoms. Any sort of exercise, from cardio that gets your blood pumping, to yoga to stretch your muscles, will bring you more physical comfort.
Exercise Changes Your Brain Chemistry
Cortisol is the human body’s stress hormone. When cortisol levels are high, your entire body goes into survival mode. This affects every aspect of your wellbeing including your immune system, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Specifically, cortisol prepares you to either fight or run from an imminent threat.
To counteract the effects of cortisol, you need to actually change your brain chemistry. And the best way to do that? You guessed it: exercise. In fact, the real solution is regular exercise. Physical activity stresses the body, thereby releasing cortisol, but it also increases the body’s tolerance to stress. This trains the body to release less cortisol when under stress, reducing its side-effects. Additionally, exercise releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins are responsible for pain relief, relaxation, and feelings of positivity following exercise.
Physical Activity Improves Sleep
One of the worst side-effects of stress is the inability to sleep. And as we all know, lack of sleep brings with it a host of other nasty symptoms. Not only does exercise release pent-up anxiety that can inhibit sleep, it promotes good flow of oxygen to the brain and lungs. This leads to clearer thinking and the ability to relax.
Being in the Gym Builds Community
Many studies have shown that an essential element to mental health is a positive community. By stepping out of the office and into a supportive, knowledgeable gym, you give yourself the ability to be totally healthy. FitPro West makes a point to be that type of supportive community. As one client wrote, “If you want results and folks who know you by your name and not by your key card scan, FitPro is a great bet.” Exercising on your own may help your physical health, but finding a fitness community you trust will improve your mental and emotional health as well.
We live in a stressful world. Regular exercise is an excellent addition to your stress-management plan. It improves your resiliency and lessens the effects of stress on your mind and body. Visit FitPro West today to meet our trainers, try out our facilities, and make a plan to add us to your regular schedule!