Stress is inevitable. We’re all so busy working, juggling demands and burning the candle at both ends, that an occasional burnout is hard to avoid. If you’re finding yourself fatigued, irritable, getting ill frequently, or generally feeling down, it’s often your body’s way of telling you to recharge and reduce stress.
Taking time out for yourself and maintaining a positive work-life balance is crucial for reducing day-to-day stress. An ideal way to do that is with exercise.
For many people, fitness is a way to improve their quality of life – which is what functional training is all about. Improving the way you naturally move has an impact on everyday activities, whether that’s climbing the stairs or pushing open a heavy door. But there are a multitude of other ways exercise can reduce stress. Here are just a few of them.
The buzz you feel after a good workout is the stimulation of endorphins, which are our happy hormones and natural painkillers. At the same time, you’ll cut the amount of stress hormones in the body, including adrenaline and cortisol. You might have heard it called a ‘runner’s high’, but a steady hike or an invigorating game of basketball can still pump out those feel-good hormones. A little exercise can go a long way in terms of stress management.
Ever wondered why you forget things easily when you’re stressed? Distressing events can result in atrophies in the brain, particularly in the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory. Pump up your heart rate and you’ll naturally promote the production of neurohormones such as norepinephrine, boosting your cognitive function, mood and ability to take in information. This not only helps with past damage – but can help your brain communicate with your body to improve the way you respond to stress in the future.
Humans have always had a physiological ‘fight or flight’ reaction to stress. It’s an evolutionarily-programmed response to harmful events, attacks or threats to survival. But while our ancestors will have had to physically fight or sprint out of danger’s way, we no longer require these hyper-aroused reactions. The problem is, our body still pumps out the same chemicals – and we have no way to relieve them. Unless we exercise, that is. Physical movement is the most effective and logical way to engage in fight or flight. Go for a run, hit the gym, or lift some weights – it’s how your body was designed to respond to reduce stress.
All that bad energy building up throughout the day can be released through a rigorous workout. But you can pump up your positive vibes even more when you exercise with others. Attending a group class, joining a running group or simply heading to the gym with a buddy will help you feel less alone in issues causing you stress. Scientific studies have shown that exercising with others results in more calmness and tiredness than when working out alone – so you’ll enjoy a better night’s sleep and improved mental wellness.