Exercise for stress relief

exercise and impact on emotional well-being

Have you ever come back from a walk and felt more relaxed? Or maybe you hit the weights after work and all of your stress from the day washed away.

Since the 1970s, researchers have discovered that physical activity can boost your mood!

Exercise has been shown to improve stress management, general feelings of well-being , decrease muscular tension and increase self-esteem.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • Regular, rhythmic exercise can increase serotonin. This “feel good hormone” contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness.
  • Seeing yourself getting better at something provides a sense of self-worth. Doing something deliberate to improve your mind and body makes you feel in control of your life.
  • Time away from “life” to exercise can be a positive distraction from stressors, and it can spill over for hours afterwards.
  • Exercise can bring you into a place of “FLOW”. Flow is that state of being where you lose track of time. You are doing something you enjoy and time just slips away.
  • Exercise has similar effects as meditation, coordinating the conscious and subconscious mind. This recharges your batteries.
  • Fitness settings can provide the opportunities for social connection- which releases more “feel good hormones” like oxytocin. (The ‘tend and befriend” hormone)

Keep in mind that the benefits can be both immediate and long term.  In fact, you may not feel fabulous during your workout- but immediately afterwards you feel proud that you showed up, you are energetic and ready for the day and feel exhilarated from your workout.

Conversely- you may not reach that weight loss goal in the first 10 days or master the art of Pilates, Zumba or Kick-boxing in your first class- but you may feel the accomplishment after about 6-10 classes!

These benefits are so strong that on the flip side research has also shown that LACK of physical activity is a predictor of increased symptoms of depression.