Relieving Stress By Exercise
Exercise is no doubt an effective way to relieve stress. This is not only a common sense belief. Many scientific
researches support this idea. It is said that exercise helps the brain to produce several biochemicals in the body
that help lessen stress. For instance, marathon runners experience an "endorphin high," which is a result of
marathon workouts. Endorphin high happens when the brain releases an opiate-like substance. The body, to reduce
pain, naturally produces this substance. In rare instances, this can also lead to a sense of euphoria, or a state
of great happiness.
Aside from endorphin, there are other mood elevators in the form of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.
These are neuro-transmitters that send pain signals to the brain, and they are also believed to lift the mood.
However, their positive effects are more evident when they are at very low levels. Otherwise, depression, anxiety
and at times, increased aggression are evident.
Exercise aids in reducing stress by producing these biochemicals while simultaneously reducing the production of
biochemicals created by stress. The sympathetic nervous system produces cortisol and certain hormones when a person
is experiencing stress. Cortisol and certain hormones can have adverse effects on the blood vessels when left
unchanged in the blood stream. Scarring, which leads to narrowing of the arteries, is the common result of the
continuous production of cortisol.
Doing regular workout helps to solve this problem in two ways. These compounds get used up when a person works
out. The compounds are broken down into harmless elements and are eliminated from the body in the form of urine or
sweat. At the same time, exercising strengthens the blood vessels and makes them more elastic. When a person
develops stronger blood vessels, it will be easier for this person to resist the effects of any stress-produced and
unused chemicals in the body.
In addition, since stress normally causes tensed muscles in the neck, shoulder and calve areas, exercise helps
loosen up the muscles during the entire workout period. Exercise also strengthens the muscles and infuses them with
fresh and highly oxygenated blood. Because exercise lowers the bad cholesterol and triglycerides contents in the
blood, the circulatory system improves as well.
Aside from physical benefits, exercise also has a number of psychological benefits for eliminating stress. For
one, exercise diverts the attention from the stressors. You need not dwell on what is troubling you because you
have better things to do. A fight with your partner this morning or your boss' unfair treatment would not bother
you much when you are busy working out at the gym.
The psychological effects of exercise also provide a homeostasis effect in the mind. Homeostasis is a feedback
mechanism in the body that helps it bounce back to an equilibrium state. Doing heavy workout takes the mind away
from problems, giving the mind time to continue functioning without pressuring it more.
Regular exercise helps you become physically fit and improves your overall health. This, in turn, makes you feel
good about yourself. It makes you more confident. At the same time, it also makes you realize your efforts to
achieve something, thus, helping you overcome feelings of helplessness, which usually results to stress.
Walking is a good form of exercise. However, working out for at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week is
better. Doing this, you will notice a significant change in your mood and your stress level will essentially