Ah, summer — longer days, a less structured lifestyle … NOT. If you’re stressed out by your kids’ summer activities, friends, meals, constant messes and late night hours (I have three teens; I can relate!), you know it’s easy to feel you can’t fit in workouts on top of everything else. But study after study has shown that regular exercise is one of the best things you can do when you’re stressed.
Stress actually causes you to breathe more shallowly, depriving your body of oxygen just when you need it most. Exercise (like a good brisk walk) practically forces you to breathe, relieving stress. Plus, you don’t need a prescription, and there are no side effects.
Even when your kids are cranky and your boss is moody and your spouse is sulky, you can always count on the physical and mental uplift you generate just by getting your heart pumping and your muscles moving.
10 Stress-Busting Benefits of Exercise
Below are 10 ways that exercise busts stress. After all, the evening summer breeze on a walk with my husband is my best cure for a stressful day.
1. It alleviates anxiety. Studies show that people feel less nervous and fretful after they exercise.
2. It can lighten depression. Chronic stress can wear you down and leave you feeling hopeless. Many doctors are now prescribing exercise instead of anti-depressants. Remember: any movement is good movement!
3. It can help you sleep like a baby. If your worries are keeping you awake, you’ll be even less prepared to deal with them in the morning. Numerous studies have shown that regular exercisers sleep better.
4. It can boost your energy. Energy is like money: you have to spend it to make it. Stress depletes your reserves and resources, but exercise will always restore you.
5. It creates the relaxation response. Just one workout will elevate your mood and leave you with a feeling of well-being that lasts up to two hours after your workout ends.
6. It makes you more alert. As your muscles contract and relax, your brain responds by releasing certain neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals that carry messages between nerve cells and muscles. These promote both relaxation and alertness.
7. It enhances self-esteem by giving you a positive feeling of accomplishment. When your inner critic starts telling you that you aren’t coping well, silence that nagging little voice by paging through your workout log!
8. It helps you flush the by-products of stress out of your system. Stressful episodes cause hormones like adrenaline to be released into your bloodstream. Vigorous activity helps your body to wipe the slate clean.
9. It inspires you to be a healthier eater. Once you start feeling like an athlete, you’ll start eating like one. You’ll start thinking of food as fuel for your engine. You’ll be more aware of how your body feels when you try to take out your troubles on a pizza. The better nourished you are, the better able you are to cope with stress.
10. It reminds you to take care of yourself. Before you can give anything to anyone, you’ve got to be kind and generous to yourself first. And on these long summer days full of kids and commotion, I never deprive myself of my 30-minute activity time!
Just Give it Two Weeks! Check out my new book 2-Week Total Body Turnaround.