Exercise and Stress

Exercise Reduces Stress

No doubt about it.  The world can be a very stressful place.  The next time that you are feeling a little overwhelmed by stress, keep the following facts in mind.  As a specific response to stress, certain glands of the body produce stress hormones, which can build up and cause anxiety and tension. 


Exercise can stimulate the release of natural substances that counteract the negative effects of these stress hormones.  I have always found this reaction a beautiful illustration of the body's natural ability to balance itself under the proper conditions.


As if all of that weren’t enough justification to leave the office early, keep in mind that regular physical activity and exercise also greatly reduce the risk of dying from coronary heart disease and decrease the risk of developing diabetes, hypertension and colon cancer.


One of the things I enjoy most about living in South Florida is sneaking away from the pressing demands of our busy “season” for a few precious hours and driving straight to the beach for some exercise and sunshine.  There is no feeling in the world quite like working up a healthy sweat while  rollerblading on a brisk November day or walking for miles on the beach before diving in for an invigorating swim in the Gulf of Mexico.


Since your body was made to be active, every part of it functions best when you keep moving on a regular basis. Exercise connects you with the source of your pure energy and makes you feel fully alive.


The scientific explanation for the euphoric feeling often associated with vigorous exercise has to do with the release of pleasure producing chemicals in the body called endorphins. Anyone who has ever experienced a runner’s high may be familiar with  endorphins, which are actually natural hormones that are released during some forms of strenuous exercise of long duration.


Endorphin secretion has been associated with increased pain tolerance, improved appetite control, and a reduction in anxiety, tension, and anger.  Especially important to women is the implication of endorphins in the regulation of the female menstrual cycle.  Recently, other factors such as alpha brain waves, neurotransmitters, and elevated body temperature have also been linked to the sense of well being that often accompanies vigorous exercise. 


Most of us still have a spark left in us from our youth, when dynamic movement and physical activity were as natural to us as eating and breathing.  You can keep that healthy, stress relieving flame burning if you take the time to make exercise and physical activity a high priority in your life and give yourself permission to go out and make it happen. No guilt, no worries.