Many people exercise to lose weight and improve their health. What you may not know is that exercise is also closely linked to stress reduction. Here are some of the direct benefits of exercise that will help reduce and control stress in your life.
Most people report an improvement in their mood directly after exercising. You might have heard this referred to as a ‘runner’s high’. Prolonged physical activity increases the production of endorphins and other neurotransmitters in the brain, as well as decreasing stress hormones such as cortisol. These chemicals act as natural pain relievers and generate a positive, energising feeling that lasts for two hours or more.
Exercise is also a great way to relieve nervous tension and help focus. When stressful feelings build up you can often feel anxious or angry. Exercise is a great outlet for releasing negative feelings, especially high-energy activities like running or martial arts. It can help you forget the day’s problems, and you may feel that concentration on a single task helps you to be calmer and more focused in your thinking. Exercise also greatly helps to relieve many of the physical symptoms of stress, such as tensed muscles.
There are also psychological benefits to exercise that can be very powerful in preventing stress. When you set exercise plans and goals and stick to them, you feel accomplished and positive. It’s a great idea to exercise first thing in the morning every day. Exercise makes you feel better about yourself, both physically and mentally, and this will help you feel in better control of the daily challenges that otherwise lead to stress.
Exercising is a great way both to relieve immediate stress and to put you in a better frame of mind to deal with stressful situations over time. You only need 20 minutes of daily aerobic activity to gain these benefits. Make the time to exercise, and you will be on the way to controlling stress.
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