Exercise is instrumental in reducing stress
Although there are many different ways to reduce stress, exercise is perhaps one of the most effect methods, which also results in other positive physical outcomes. Christina Geithner, Ph.D., an American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) fitness instructor, explained that stress not only has ill affects on the mind but also on the body. During her presentation at the ACSM’s 12th-annual Health and Fitness Summit and Exposition, Dr. Geithner relayed that stress can cause sleep problems, headaches, fatigue, appetite changes, an increase in cortisol secretion, increased resting heart rate, weight changes, and increased blood pressure, to name a few. Although meditation and breathing can and do produce relaxation, exercise improves the person’s overall physical health with time. According to Dr. Geithner, “Exercise serves as a distraction from the stressor, and results in reduced muscle tension and cortisol secretion. The additional benefit of exercise is that when done alone or used in combination with other stress reduction methods, it also improves physical fitness and has the potential for more profound effects on chronic disease risk reduction than other stress reduction strategies.” The following is an excerpt of an article from MedicalNewsToday.com that reviews Dr. Geithner’s comments:
“Stress is a common problem in today’s society, largely because increased pressure to perform on the job has created work/life imbalances,” Geithner said. “Other major stressors include death of a spouse or family member, divorce, marriage, and personal injury or illness.” She also cited job demands, a move or change in a work or living situation, relationship issues or arguments, financial issues, and holidays as possible causes of stress.
Many methods of stress reduction exist, including breathing, meditation, progressive relaxation, and exercise. All tend to reduce anxiety, depression, heart rate and blood pressure, and enhance a feeling of relaxation and wellbeing.
“Exercise serves as a distraction from the stressor, and results in reduced muscle tension and cortisol secretion,” Geithner said. “The additional benefit of exercise is that when done alone or used in combination with other stress reduction methods, it also improves physical fitness and has the potential for more profound effects on chronic disease risk reduction than other stress reduction strategies.”
As part of a stress management routine, Geithner suggests eating a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, practicing breathing exercises, and including aerobic as well as mind/body exercise such as yoga, t’ai chi, or pilates.
“Make time for activities and people you enjoy on a regular basis, and laugh often,” she said. “Try to accept that you can’t control everything in your life. Make choices that support your well-being and reduce your stress, rather than add to it.”