The Top 10 Ways Exercise Can Reduce Stress
For a full-color, graphically-enhanced, printer-friendly version of our Top 10 list, click here. You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this article.
People who exercise regularly will tell you they feel better. But why is that? Some would answer that it's because chemicals called neurotransmitters, produced in the brain, are stimulated during exercise. Since it's believed that neurotransmitters mediate our moods and emotions, it's logical to conclude that this stimulation can improve feelings and reduce stress.
While there's no scientific evidence to support the neurotransmitter theory conclusively, there is plenty to show that exercise provides stress-relieving benefits. And let's face it: We could all do with less stress in our lives.
Stress can leave you feeling drained, anxious, even depressed. Fortunately, exercise has been proved to help alleviate these and many other stress-related problems. So work out your worries with a workout, and sweat out that stress.
THE TOP 10 WAYS EXERCISE CAN HELP REDUCE STRESS
- EXERCISE CAN MAKE YOU FEEL LESS ANXIOUS.
Stress can make you feel anxious, and studies show that people feel less jittery and hyperactive following exercise.
- EXERCISE RELAXES YOU.
One exercise session generates 90 to 120 minutes of relaxation response. This post-exercise euphoria improves your mood and leaves you feeling relaxed.
- EXERCISE INCREASES ALERTNESS.
Studies have shown that when large muscle groups repeatedly contract and relax, as in yoga, the brain receives a signal to release specific neurotransmitters, which in turn make you feel relaxed and more alert.
- EXERCISE MAKES YOU FEEL BETTER ABOUT YOURSELF.
Think about those times when you've been physically active. Haven't you felt better about yourself? That feeling of self-worth contributes to stress relief.
- EXERCISE REDUCES DEPRESSION.
Some researchers believe exercise can be more effective than medication for treating depression in some people.
- EXERCISE HELPS YOU SLEEP MORE RESTFULLY.
Stress can make it difficult to get a good night's sleep, but studies show that people who exercise regularly sleep better than those who don't.
- EXERCISE INCREASES ENERGY, WHICH CAN HELP YOU BETTER DEAL WITH STRESSFUL EVENTS.
Stress can leave you tired and weary, but even a 10-minute walk can go a long way to upping your energy level. And the old adage is true — the more energy you use, the more you seem to have.
- EXERCISE RIDS THE BODY OF STRESS-CAUSING ADRENALINE AND OTHER HORMONES.
Vigorous activities such as indoor cycling and sports such as basketball are particularly effective.
- EXERCISE ENCOURAGES YOU TO FOLLOW A HEALTHIER DIET.
People who exercise regularly tend to eat more nutritious food. And it's no secret that good nutrition helps your body manage stress better.
- EXERCISE HELPS YOU TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF, WHICH CAN BE DIFFICULT TO DO WHEN YOU'RE STRESSED OUT.
Whether you exercise alone or with a friend, it's important to take time for yourself during stressful periods.