Sometimes when you’re done with your daily responsibilities, you may feel totally stressed out and just want to watch TV or videos. While it might feel good to engulf yourself in the story, it won’t help you relieve the stress you feel. What should you do instead to relieve stress? The answer is simple, just workout. Try it sometime and you’ll see. It doesn’t have to be a traditional workout, just running up and down stairs or going for a brisk walk can help lower stress levels and make you feel great.
What does stress do to the body?
Stress causes the body to change. Your brain creates hormones when you’re stressed and those prepare you to run or fight. The fight or flight response was important for early man, when stress was caused by real danger, like wild animal attacks. Today, much of our stress comes from traffic jams, an angry boss or just the chaos of everyday life. The brain doesn’t care. It still sends out the same hormones and makes the changes to get you ready for running or fighting, even though the situation doesn’t call for it. These hormones increase the blood to extremities so you can run or fight, dilate the eyes to see better, increase heart rate and blood pressure, slowing blood flow to other areas, like the organs for digestion.
How does exercise help?
Since stress changes the body to run or fight, running and fighting causes it to burn off the hormones. Exercise mimics those activities. When you’re working out, you’re doing exactly what it takes to eliminate the hormones of stress and increase the hormones that make you feel good and act like natural pain killers, something else important if you’ve just fought off a saber-toothed tiger.
Not all stress is easy to identify or eliminate.
Danger can be real or perceived. We all understand how getting screamed at by the boss can be stressful, but what about people that are afraid of a tiny spider? That doesn’t make sense. Have you ever felt stressed and scared just watching a movie or waking up from a nightmare? Your brain doesn’t differentiate between real and imagined, just as it doesn’t differentiate between fighting and exercise.
- Exercise increases circulation, which can help clear your brain and make you more alert from the extra oxygen and nutrient laden blood. It relieves muscle tension and that goes a long way to relieving stress.
- While exercise is important, so is healthy eating. No matter how much you exercise, if your diet is filled with sugary treats, your body will react with stress from the spikes and valleys of blood sugar levels.
- If you’re feeling anxious, studies show that exercise can help. In fact, it’s used as an adjacent therapy for anxiety and depression. In some studies, exercise was used as a replacement for medication.
- An imbalance of your gut microbiome—the microbes in your digestive tract—can affect your emotions. Exercise can help increase the beneficial bacteria, so can a healthy diet that includes prebiotics like fiber.
For more information, contact us today at Rising Fitness Gym