A word that causes many of us to cringe- work, meetings, appointments, finances, families, and hectic lifestyles can all play a part in increasing our stress levels. But what is it, really? Stress can be defined as any real or imagined threat to our bodies’ sense of wellbeing or, homeostasis. Our bodies naturally release hormones as a result of feeling threatened in preparation for fighting the stressor. These hormones can have a major impact on how well we function.
What stress causes …experienced any of these lately?
- Sleep disturbances
- Frequent illness
- Changes in eating habits
- Long term “chronic” stress can have significant detriment to immune system function
So what can we do about it? Research has demonstrated that exercise CAN play a significant role in stress management and reduction! From the college-aged to beyond the empty nester, about 150 minutes or 2 ½ hours of moderate physical activity a week such as walking, yoga, swimming or jogging can help reduce the symptoms of stress. Bottom line, find an activity you like and get started doing it!
What exercise can do…want to experience any of these?
- Improve your mood
- Get a better nights’ sleep
- Give you energy; increase stamina
- Reduce risk for certain diseases
- Improve immune function
- Increase your self-confidence
- Achieve better body composition
- Better body awareness
- Decrease depression and anxiety**
Where do I start?
Often the most difficult part of beginning an exercise program is dedicating time. One suggestion to help overcome this issue would be to start off with small increments of physical activity throughout your day. Research has shown that frequent bouts of exercise throughout the day, such as 3 increments of 10 minutes, can have as much benefit as one thirty minute session. Maybe you need to schedule appointments with yourself as a reminder to set aside time to work out as the times may change with variations in your schedule. Start small but be consistent. Another helpful tip is to find a partner – working out with a friend provides not only a social outlet but also accountability.
Gutiérrez, Carmen Villaverde, Gema Torres Luque, Gracia M Ábalos Medina, Maria J Argente Del Castillo, Isabel M. Guisado, Rafael Guisado Barrilao, and Jesús Ramírez Rodrigo. “Influence of Exercise on Mood in Postmenopausal Women.” Journal of Clinical Nursing 21.7-8 (2012): 923-28. Print.
Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Stress Management.” Exercise and Stress: Get Moving to Manage Stress. Mayo Clinic, 21 July 2012. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.
Smits, Jasper A.j., Angela C. Berry, David Rosenfield, Mark B. Powers, Evelyn Behar, and Michael W. Otto. “Reducing Anxiety Sensitivity with Exercise.” Depression and Anxiety 25.8 (2008): 689-99. Print.
Jackson, Erica M. “STRESS RELIEF: The Role of Exercise in Stress Mangement.” ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal 17.3 (2013): 14-19. Wolters Kluwer Health. Web. 12 Mar. 2014. <http://ovidsp.tx.ovid.com.ezproxy.mc3.edu:2048/sp-3.11.0a/ovidweb.cgi?&S=JIIHFPFNCIDDNNHINCMKEDDCEGBKAA00&Link+Set=S.sh.22|1|sl_10>.
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