Managing Stress with Exercise
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Everyone experiences periods of stress throughout their lives. While some stressors can help motivate you, too much or uncontrolled stress can leave you feeling frustrated, anxious and even make you physically unhealthy.
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH, states, “it’s not stress that kills, it’s the way you manage it.” How can you manage your stress with exercise? Trainers Alicia Parker and James Silvester explain how getting up and getting moving can do wonders for your worry.
Impacts of Stress
According to the American Institute of Stress, one in five Americans experience extreme stress, which can lead to shaking, heart palpitations and even depression.
“Stress can take not only an emotional toll on your body, but a physical toll,” explains Silvester. “People can experience headaches, panic attacks, dizziness and muscle tension.”
Long-term stress has even been shown to raise blood pressure and resting heart rate, increase cortisol levels and lead to weight gain.
Dr. Cooper says one of the best ways to manage stress is by exercising.
While exercising might be the last thing you want to do when you’re overwhelmed, Parker says it can make a huge difference in the way you feel.
“Exercise has been proven to increase endorphins, concentration and mood,” explains Parker. “Whether it’s running, yoga, biking or walking, it’s important to take just 30 minutes a day and get moving. Doing so can help release tension and anxiety.”
Parker recommends myofascial release to her clients who come in complaining about stress-related pain. Myofascial release is a massage and stretching technique that can help release muscle tension, improve flexibility and decrease muscle soreness.
“Start your workout with foam rolling and focus on areas that are giving you trouble such as your feet, hips, back or neck,” explains Parker.
Silvester says body weight exercises, such as push-ups, pull-ups and lunges are also good relief exercises.
“The great thing about body weight exercises is you don’t need to be at a gym to do them,” explains Silvester. “If you’re feeling stressed in the middle of your day, you can utilize a desk or table to do push-ups or even just step away from your desk or go outside and do a set of squats or lunges. It’s a great way to relieve stress no matter where you are.”
Once you begin exercising, your mind and body will start to feel better. With regular exercise, you may find your blood pressure and resting heart rate improve, you lose weight and have more energy. Treating yourself to soothing music, practicing guided imagery or spending some quiet time relaxing in nature can also help relieve stress.
For more information about personal training, visit cooperfitnesscenter.com or call 972.233.4832.