Friday, September 22, 2023

Why Does Exercise Help With Stress

Autoregulation Exercise And Stress Relief

Why Exercise Helps Anxiety (and how relying on Exercise is NOT the Answer)…

Regular physical activity keeps you healthy as it reduces stress. But another special sort of exercise known as autoregulation exercises can also reduce stress.

Stress comes in many forms and produces many symptoms. Mental symptoms range from worry and irritability to restlessness and insomnia, anger and hostility, or sensations of dread, foreboding, and even panic.

Mental stress can also produce physical symptoms. Muscles are tense, resulting in fidgetiness, taut facial expressions, headaches, or neck and back pain. The mouth is dry, producing unquenchable thirst or perhaps the sensation of a lump in the throat that makes swallowing difficult. Clenched jaw muscles can produce jaw pain and headaches. The skin can be pale, sweaty, and clammy. Intestinal symptoms range from “butterflies” to heartburn, cramps, or diarrhea. Frequent urination may be a bother. A pounding pulse is common, as is chest tightness. Rapid breathing is also typical, and may be accompanied by sighing or repetitive coughing. In extreme cases, hyperventilation can lead to tingling of the face and fingers, muscle cramps, lightheadedness, and even fainting.

The physical symptoms of stress are themselves distressing. In fact, the body’s response to stress can feel so bad that it produces additional mental stress. During the stress response, then, mind and body can amplify each other’s distress signals, creating a vicious cycle of tension and anxiety.

Stress Management Through Physical Activity

For many people, an exercise routine builds self-esteem. You may find satisfaction from going to the gym or developing creative ways to exercise indoors.

Feeling good about how you handle exercise may make it easier to take other precautions against stress, including sleeping well or taking breaks from work.

A 2021 meta-analysis found evidence that exercise improves someones perceived sleep quality and lessens insomnia severity in adults. Also, a 2020 review concluded that strength training helps with the pain of tension-type headaches and aerobic training helps reduce the severity of migraine headaches.

Overall, exercise might help reduce the severity of several triggers for stress, including poor sleep and headaches. Exercise may even curb your symptoms of stress and make you more likely to handle new stress better.

How Much Should I Exercise

Before getting into the ways physical activity may help your immune system, its important to discuss how much exercise you likely need for general health.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services , most adults should get at least 150300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week .

The HHS also recommends doing at least 2 days per week of muscle-strengthening activities involving all major muscle groups in your legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms.

Being active most days of the week is an excellent goal to benefit your overall health and well-being. Its also a great place to start if you want to work toward boosting your immune system.

A healthy immune system protects your body from bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens you encounter daily.

Here are 6 ways exercise may help your immune system.

You May Like: What Is The Best Essential Oil For Stress

What Are The Physical And Psychological Benefits Of Exercise

Modern formal exercise as we know it began in the 1970s as a way of simply looking good. Forty years later we have the benefit of numerous studies researching the effects exercise has on the inside of our bodies. Yes, many of us want to physically look our best on the outside , but exercise can dramatically change our insides as well. And lets be clear, its the insides that provide us with vibrancy, longevity, and the ability to live out the calling God has for us.

Easy Ways To Move More That Dont Involve The Gym

Help Relieve Stress Through Exercise

Dont have a 30-minute block of time to dedicate to yoga or a bike ride? Dont worry. Think about physical activity as a lifestyle rather than just a single task to check off your to-do list. Look at your daily routine and consider ways to sneak in activity here, there, and everywhere.

< Move in and around your home. Clean the house, wash the car, tend to the yard and garden, mow the lawn with a push mower, sweep the sidewalk or patio with a broom.

Sneak activity in at work or on the go. Bike or walk to an appointment rather than drive, use stairs instead of elevators, briskly walk to the bus stop then get off one stop early, park at the back of the lot and walk into the store or office, or take a vigorous walk during your coffee break.

Get active with the family. Jog around the soccer field during your kids practice, make a neighborhood bike ride part of your weekend routine, play tag with your children in the yard, go canoeing at a lake, walk the dog in a new place.

Get creative with exercise ideas. Pick fruit at an orchard, boogie to music, go to the beach or take a hike, gently stretch while watching television, organize an office bowling team, take a class in martial arts, dance, or yoga.

Recommended Reading: How To Beat Stress Eating

Physical Activity Reduces Stress

Stress is an inevitable part of life. Seven out of ten adults in the United States say they experience stress or anxiety daily, and most say it interferes at least moderately with their lives, according to the most recent ADAA survey on stress and anxiety disorders. When the American Psychological Association surveyed people in 2008, more people reported physical and emotional symptoms due to stress than they did in 2007, and nearly half reported that their stress has increased in the past year.

Its impossible to eliminate, but you can learn to manage stress, and most people usually do. According to a recent ADAA online poll, some 14 percent of people make use of regular exercise to cope with stress. Others reported talking to friends or family sleeping watching movies or TV , as well as eating and listening to music .

While all of these are well-known coping techniques, exercise may be the one most recommended by health care professionals. And among ADAA poll takers who exercise, a healthy percentage is already on the right track: Walking , running , and yoga are their preferred strategies.

Exercising Body and Mind

Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.

How Does Exercise Reduce Depression Symptoms

Theres extensive research to show that exercise helps reduce symptoms of depression in people already experiencing them. Physical activity can also be a protective measure against future episodes of depression.

Researchers are still learning about the biological reasons why exercise has such a positive effect on so many people. It can offer similar benefits to traditional therapy and may even work better than some conventional treatments.

Recommended Reading: How To Cure Chronic Stress Naturally

Here Are 4 Ways Regular Exercise Can Help Reduce Stress:

1. Endorphins: Your Brain’s Natural Mood Boosters

Youve probably heard about post-workout bliss or a runners high. This boost of positive feelings comes from endorphins, the brains feel-good transmitters that are released during physical activity.

But did you know that this positive effect can also become cumulative and grow over time? If you stick with a regular exercise routine, chances are youll notice increased feelings of well-being that last even after youve left the gym.

2. Physical Activity “Gets You Out of Your Head”

Physical activity can help take your mind off your worries. The repetitive motions involved in exercisewhether its a series of yoga movements or swimming laps around the pool keep your mind focused on the movement of your body.and OFF that hamster-wheel of stressful thoughts.

3. Fitness Goals Help You Take Control & Gain Confidence

When life feels like its spinning out of control, physical activity can help you take back the reigns, giving you a sense of command over your body and life. You have the power to set your personal goals.

The sense of accomplishment you gain from finishing a tough workout or meeting a fitness goal is also a great confidence-booster, which you can carry with you to other aspects of your life.

4. Exercise Helps Promote Healthy, Restorative Sleep

Regular exercise helps you relax and improves sleep quality, giving mind and body a much-needed time of restoration.

Mental Exercises Reduce Stress Too

This is Why Exercise is so Great for Anxiety!

Bodily exercise can help relax the mind, and mental maneuvers can, too. Most often, that means talking out problems with a supportive listener, who can be a friend, a chaplain, or a trained counselor or psychotherapist. But you can also do it yourself, harnessing the power of your own mind to reduce stress. Simply writing down your thoughts and feelings can be very beneficial, and formal meditation exercises have helped many people reduce stress and gain perspective.

Meditation is a prime example of the unity of mind and body. Mental stress can speed the heart and raise the blood pressure meditation can actually reverse the physiological signs of stress. Scientific studies of Indian yoga masters demonstrate that meditation can, in fact, slow the , lower the blood pressure, reduce the breathing rate, diminish the body’s oxygen consumption, reduce blood adrenaline levels, and change skin temperature.

Although meditation is an ancient Eastern religious technique, you don’t have to become a pilgrim or convert to put it to work for you. In fact, your best guide to meditation is not an Indian spiritualist but a Harvard physician, Dr. Herbert Benson. Here’s an outline of what Dr. Benson has termed as the relaxation response:

1. Select a time and place that will be free of distractions and interruption. A semi-darkened room is often best it should be quiet and private. If possible, wait two hours after you eat before you meditate and empty your bladder before you get started.

Also Check: How To Manage Job Stress

Consistent Exercise Can Help:

  • reduce your risk of a heart attack
  • manage your weight better
  • have a lower blood cholesterol level
  • lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers
  • have lower blood pressure
  • have stronger bones, muscles and joints and a lower risk of developing osteoporosis
  • lower your risk of falls.

Another part of our insides is our brain. Exercise improves our mental health just like it improves our heart health!

Remember the 20 minutes of exercise we discussed above? If you do that every day, Dr. McGonigal reports that studies have shown the result is a reduced risk of depression and suicidal thinking!

If youve ever fallen in love or had a child, you know your brain is changed forever. You tend to see the world through a different lens. After I had my firstborn, I began to see awkward middle schoolers not as strange human beings, but as somebody elses child. I also became more grace-giving because I desperately needed that myself as a mom.

Physical activity can do the same thing. Think of it as a new relationship with your body. It can bring just as much joy and fulfillment as when with a new spouse, friendship, or child

Find any kind of movement that brings you joy and get moving! If you dont know where to begin, lace up some walking shoes and hit the pavement or trails with a friend. Youll deepen your relationship, see Gods creation, and take care of your mind all at the same time.

Increases Emotional Resilience To Stress

One explanation says that exercise may increase emotional resilience to stress.

In a 2014 study , researchers looked at 111 participants and compared the effects of a stressful task with those of a non-stressful task. They also analyzed differences between people who exercised regularly and people who were sedentary.

The results indicated that stress caused a smaller decline in positive mood among regular exercisers. The sedentary individuals experienced a larger decline in mood. This suggests that regular exercise may increase resilience, helping people cope with difficult situations.

However, it is important to note that the study did not show a direct causal link between stress levels and exercise. Other factors are likely at play for example, a person with a chronic health condition that forces them to be sedentary may have higher stress levels overall.

Despite this, lower stress levels may mean a person is less likely to experience certain health problems. Older research from 2013 notes that 7590% of visits to a primary care doctor are for stress-related conditions, such as:

Read Also: How To Calm Your Stress Down

Exercise Raises Body Temperature

Unless youre moving at a snails pace, your body temperature will increase during most forms of exercise and will stay elevated for a short time after you complete a workout .

Why is this significant? Its a commonly held belief that this brief rise in body temperature both during and after exercise may prevent bacteria from growing and help your body better address an infection, similarly to how a fever works.

Still, its important to note that this claim lacks evidence-based support.

While this temporary temperature rise is not as significant as the increase you experience with a fever, it still may be beneficial to your immune system.

Exercise Is A Meditation In Motion

The 7 Best Workouts for Stress Relief

Research shows the benefits of meditation and mindfulness to relieve stress. Think of exercise as a type of mindfulness meditation in motion. Mindful exercise encourages a calm, focused mindset. Better yet, it can stay with you throughout the day. If youre not the sit-still type, its an excellent alternative to traditional meditation or mindfulness for stress relief.

Any type of exercise thats repetitive and methodical will do. If it involves having to do precise, flowing movements, even better. For instance, think tai chi. Its a form of exercise that encourages the mind to focus. It also provides an opportunity to stop worrying and just be.

If you want the same mindfulness meditation in motion, but prefer something more dynamic, consider a game of tennis. It has the added benefit of being social and requires the brain to focus and predict the activity of the other player. Such activities are excellent to keep your brain sharp.

In sum, mindful exercise encourages optimism and energy. Thus, its a great antidote to stress.

Don’t Miss: Which Vitamin B Is Good For Stress

How Does Exercise Reduce Stress Surprising Answers To This Question And More

How does exercise reduce stress, and can exercise really be relaxing?

Rest and relaxation. It’s such a common expression that it has become a cliche. And although rest really can be relaxing, the pat phrase causes many men to overlook the fact that exercise can also be relaxing. It’s true for most forms of physical activity as well as for specific relaxation exercises.

Exercise is a form of physical stress. Can physical stress relieve mental stress? Alexander Pope thought so: “Strength of mind is exercise, not rest.” Plato agreed: “Exercise would cure a guilty conscience.” You’ll think so, too if you learn to apply the physical stress of exercise in a controlled, graded fashion.

Should You Exercise When Youre Sick

You might want to think twice before heading outdoors for a run or to a packed gym if youre feeling under the weather.

Exercising while sick may make you feel worse or delay recovery, especially if youre running a fever or experiencing severe symptoms (

If thats the case, skipping your workout is probably in your best interest.


You should listen to your body and take note of your symptoms before exercising when sick. If your symptoms are above the neck, you may be OK to work out. But if you have more severe symptoms such as a fever, rest is the best option.

Recommended Reading: Can Stress And Anxiety Cause Ed

What Exercise Is Best For Stress Relief

If you feel the same, I have great news for you. There are no rules about the best exercise for stress relief. The best exercise is one that you can consistently do and one that will bring you joy. For some, thats running. For others, that maybe submerging their body in a pool and swimming laps back and forth. Perhaps its strength training, hiking, group fitness, or CrossFit type workouts.

Remember you can mix it up as well. In fact, I recommend it. Changing the way we move not only helps prevent injury, it can also challenge our mind and give us that feeling of accomplishment when we have done something different or new.

Anxiety Sensitivity And Exposure

Does Exercise Really Heal Anxiety?

Anxiety sensitivity is a term for the tendency to misinterpret and catastrophize anxiety-related sensations based on the belief that they will result in disastrous physical, psychological, and/or social outcomes . McWilliams and Asmundson found an inverse relationship between anxiety sensitivity and exercise frequency and suggested that this relationship was due to avoidance of the physiological sensations of exercise that may be interpreted as anxiety and panic. A number of research studies have pointed to the effectiveness of short-term aerobic exercise to reduce anxiety sensitivity . Exposing someone with high anxiety sensitivity to the physiological symptoms they fear, such as rapid heartbeat, in the context of physical exercise increases their tolerance for such symptoms . This exposure reveals that the feared physiological sensations may be uncomfortable, but do not pose a serious threat . Repeated exposures through regular aerobic exercise may also facilitate habituation to the feared sensations .

Also Check: Can Stress Cause Urinary Problems

How Often Should I Exercise

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. For most of us, that averages to about 20 to 30 minutes per day.

If you think you cant find 30 minutes in your day, remember that any incidental exercise counts.

- Advertisement - spot_img
Popular Articles
Related news