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Stress and Exercise

Look Better, Feel Better

24 October, 2007

As our society becomes more health conscious, there has been an increased focus on the importance of exercise. Many people exercise to control weight and to get in better physical condition or to become more healthy or physically attractive – but exercise and stress management are also closely linked. Exercise can be an extremely effective stress reliever for several reasons:

  • Outlet For Frustrations:
    When life�s annoyances or frustrating situations build up, you can feel stressed or experience low grade anger. More high energy forms of exercise like boxing, martial arts or weight training can also provide an effective release of these negative emotions, turning these otherwise potentially unhealthy emotions into motivation for increased health and well-being.

  • Exercise and Stress Hormones:
    Exercise can decrease �stress hormones' like cortisol, and increase endorphins, your body's �feel-good� chemicals, giving your mood a natural boost. Running, especially outside and on trails, creates a release of endorphins that can cause euphoria or just a general sense of happiness - this is the chemistry behind 'a runner's high'.

  • Distraction:
    Physical activity itself can take your mind off your problems and either redirect it on the activity at hand or get you into a zen-like state. Exercise usually involves a change of scenery as well, either taking you to a gym, a dojo, a boxing ring, a park, a scenic mountain, a biking trail or a neighbourhood sidewalk, all of which can be pleasant, low-stress places.

  • Looking Good:
    Exercise also helps you lose weight, tone your body, and maintain a healthy glow and a smile. You may feel a subtle but significant boost as your clothes look more flattering on, and you project an aura of increased confidence and strength. This does impact many people, and can relieve stress for those who are concerned with their appearance and worry that they don�t look as healthy as they could.

  • Social Support:
    The benefits of social support are well documented. Because exercise and physical activity can often involve others, you can enjoy a double dose of stress relief with the combined benefits of exercise and fun with friends. Whether you�re in a class with others, working out in the gym with a buddy, playing softball in a league or taking a walk or hike with a friend, having others work out with you can make you feel good as well as help motivate you to push harder to get a better workout without it feeling so much like �work�.

  • Increased Health:
    While stress can cause illness, illness can also cause stress, with the physical pain, missed activities, feelings of isolation and other costs that come with it. So improving your overall health and longevity with exercise can also save you a great deal of stress in the short run (by strengthening your immunity to colds, the flu and other minor illnesses) and the long run (by helping you stay healthier longer, and enjoy life more because of it). – Issued by USN

    For more information go to the USN web site


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