If you find you fret frequently or simply feel something bad is about to happen, maybe you need to start working out. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel after a tough workout. People often tell me that even though they started working out for their heart health, weight loss or other physical benefit, they found that exercise also provided mental benefits. It’s true, fitness helps with anxiety and can help you live a fuller life without the nagging unfounded doubts and worries.
Once you understand anxiety, you’ll know why exercise works.
Primitive man had dangers all around him. Wild animals, invading groups of humans and even fires caused by lightening were a problem. To help survive, when the brain senses danger, it signals the body to prepare by sending hormones that make changes to run or fight. It slows the blood to the organs that aren’t useful for running or fighting, sends more to the extremities necessary to do so, increases heart rate, raises blood pressure and dilates the pupils. That may prepare you for fighting, but it can leave a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. It also leaves you with a feeling of impending doom. Our brain doesn’t differentiate between real danger and stress, so these same symptoms often appear from everyday interaction. Those changes to the body also describe an anxiety attack.
Dangers don’t have to be real to make the changes.
Have you ever been so engrossed in an action or horror movie that you felt your heart pounding? You weren’t running from the zombie, but your brain decided you were. Sometimes, just a memory of something that was traumatic and dangerous can set off an anxiety attack or feeling of anxiousness. It doesn’t even have to be something that actually happened, but something you worried might. The brain doesn’t really care, it simply does what it’s supposed to do in time of danger and sends out hormones to make the changes in the body.
You have to burn off the hormones of stress to get your body back to normal.
Exercise simulates the movements you make if you’re running or fighting. Those movements and the increased circulation burns off the stress hormones and replaces them with ones that make you feel at ease. The reason people pace is often because it feels good in times of stress, so take a cue from them. If you can’t workout at a gym when you’re under stress, try taking the stairs for a few laps. Run up and down the stairs until you feel better. You’ll be amazed at how well it works.
- Take a walk, make it brisk. In times of trouble or frustration, sometimes just getting out and moving until you’re breathing harder can put things back into prospective and make you feel calmer.
- It’s getting more and more common for therapists to add exercise as a complementary treatment for depression and anxiety. One thing is certain, it won’t hurt you if you’re otherwise healthy. Always consult your health care professional first before starting any program of exercise.
- Meditation, focused breathing and other mentally quieting techniques are also useful. Exercise isn’t always an option when there’s abundant stress. These techniques can help, too.
- You’ll take your mind off your problem when you’re working out hard and focus more on the workout. It allows you to retreat and then return with a whole new attitude and more alert mind.
For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health and Fitness