The stress has almost been too much to bear at work this month and it has taken its toll on my mind and body. I have been having problems getting up in the morning and by midday, I feel like I’ve already been through a marathon. I soon realized that the only thing I’ve done differently this month is skip exercise because I was too tired to do anything else after a 12 hour shift. Now, I’ve learned firsthand that there really is a direct, beneficial relationship between regular exercise and a stress-free mind and body.
When we’re stressed, we tend to slack off the healthy lifestyle train because we think we deserve a break. Aside from being a common excuse for skipping exercise, stress brings about binge eating of foods high in sugar, fat and salt. I don’t know about you, but I always feel that I deserve a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s after submitting 5 articles on time. It makes me feel better immediately, but this habit may pose a threat to my health in the long run.
This combination of eating junk food and skipping physical activity is the main reason our bodies are not able to handle stress gracefully. We exhaust our body’s natural resources, but we don’t give it the right kind of fuel and conditioning to be able to handle the pressure.Exercise poses many benefits that affect both the mind and the body. It keeps muscles and bones in tip top shape, keeps the liver and the heart from acquiring too much fat and helps manage cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Regular exercise keeps a healthy amount of happy hormones (called Endorphins) circulating around the body hours after you leave the treadmill. Endorphins keep you feeling cool and calm throughout the day and enable your mind to focus on more important tasks.
Exercise is also the best defense against depression and anxiety. Studies show that even a 10 minute walk around the block can greatly improve your mood! So the next time you feel overwhelmed, don’t take it out on your co-worker or reach for that pint of ice cream… go for a walk instead! Activities such as aerobics and boxing convert stressful thoughts into repetitive movements that help relieve stress. Visualize a project or a difficult client and box it out!
Some people resort to medication just to be able to sleep soundly at night. Out of all the benefits of exercise, my favorite would probably be good, quality sleep. This is the kind of sleep that you wake up from feeling refreshed and full of energy.
Exercise is the best thing you can do to help your body deal with stress. There is literally no downside to moving your bum regularly, so why miss out on the benefits?