Stressed out? Work out!

[This is the second in a series of articles here at FitNotesNH on the role exercise plays in preventing and/or helping to improve certain medical conditions.  Look for the FitWise logo! Our hope is that you will learn along with your fellow Wellness Center members.]

Do you wrestle with stress and anxiety? Here’s a proven way to fight it: exercise.

According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise of just about any kind has a number of benefits when it comes to stress reduction:

It releases endorphins. These are your body’s natural “feel good” chemicals, which block pain receptors in your brain and increase your sense of well-being.

It’s a form of meditation. Focusing on the movement of your body helps you forget about your cares and worries for a time. The more you do it, the more you train your body to stay calm and relaxed despite the stressors.

It’s a mood-lifter. Exercise can reduce symptoms of mild depression and anxiety. It can also improve your self-confidence and help you sleep better, which can be a key factor in depression and anxiety.

What if you’re too stressed to start an exercise program? Start slowly, with something you like doing, whether it’s walking, playing tennis, or biking. Gradually build up to the recommended exercise level: 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous exercise at least three days a week. The more you exercise, the more benefit you’ll get and the more you’ll be motivated to keep it up.


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