How does exercise help with stress management?
Stress can be caused by many things in our busy lives, including financial pressures, health difficulties, work deadlines, and relationship issues.
It can impair our sleep and our ability to deal with the everyday pressures of life.
It can cause or worsen anxiety and depression, impair our decision-making processes, and make us short-tempered.
Our current situation can add to stress and anxiety as we try to work from home, help our kids with their schoolwork, and keep the household running all while living through a public health crisis.
Chronic stress can make our lives miserable and it can have a deep and lasting impact on our quality of life through its impact on our psychological and physical health.
Physical activity can benefit both body and mind when it comes to stress relief.
It is so important that we continue to move our bodies daily and limit the amount of time spent sitting.
Most of our jobs in today’s day and age are sedentary.
Some of us with desk jobs are sitting for periods of up to 10 hours per day.
The psychological benefits of regular physical activity are plentiful. It improves blood circulation and delivery of oxygen to the brain.
This helps increase production of endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that elevate mood and control pain.
This can give a sense of wellbeing and even euphoria after exercise.
Being physically active is also a good distraction, as it helps take your mind off your worries.
Focusing on the movement of your body and the physical task at hand can give you a sense of calmness, clarity, and optimism.
This can be similar to meditation or mindfulness-based practices which are often recommended for those experiencing anxiety and depression.
Exercise improves our blood circulation, bone density, blood pressure and improves our sleep and weight management.
It decreases the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, some cancers, osteoporosis, obesity, depression, and dementia.
Physical activity prolongs life.
How much exercise do I need?
Adults should do 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week.
Moderate intensity physical activity elevates the heart rate and makes you sweat.
While we are restricted in what exercise we can participate in at the moment, there are still ways to find something that works for you. There are a multitude of classes being run online, including yoga, karate and dance session.
Incorporating incidental exercise into your day is another great way to improve stress.
Try walking to the bakery or bringing the groceries into the house one bag at a time. It all adds up.
As you exercise regularly your strength and stamina increase, and this improves self-image.
You’ll earn a sense of mastery and control over your body which improves self-confidence.
Physical activity improves your mood, both immediately afterward and is sustained if the activity becomes a regular habit.
Life can be stressful and we need to find effective ways to deal with it so that we can be well, stay well, and live our happiest lives.
For more information on how to start exercising to improve your mental health visit beyondblue’s website at www.beyondblue.org.au.
If you need urgent help with a stress disorder or a mental health crisis, contact Lifeline 131 114 or lifeline.org.au.
Alternatively, you can call beyondblue for help on 1300 224 636.
- Today’s answer is provided by Sydney General Practitioner Dr Jill Gamberg, through HealthShare, a digital company dedicated to improving the health of regional Australians. Submit questions, and find more answers, at healthshare.com.au.