Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.
These days many of us struggle with the stresses and strains placed on us by modern life, whether it be money, family, jobs or something else entirely, most of us will feel stressed or pressured at some stage in our lives.
Stress has many negative effects on the human body. Your brain and Central Nervous System can be affected and sufferers can feel irritable, anxious or depressed. There may also be side effects such as headaches or insomnia, as well as behavioural changes such as overeating, alcohol/drug abuse or withdrawing from society.
Stress makes your heart beat faster and your breathing rate increases as your body tries to distribute more oxygen around the body which can make pre-existing respiratory conditions worse. This increased heart rate can lead to increased blood pressure and problems with the heart and blood vessels.
When someone is under stress, the muscles in their body tighten, this is an automatic response to protect the body from injury. If someone is constantly under stress, their muscles do not get the chance to relax which can cause headaches, back and shoulder pain and body aches.
As you can see (and have probably felt), stress can have a huge negative impact on someone’s life, it is a horrible condition to live with. However, there is a simple, free and enjoyable way to ease the symptoms of stress, it’s called exercise!
How can exercise help you reduce the effects of stress?
When you exercise your body releases hormones such as Serotonin and Endorphins, these are the body’s natural painkillers and are designed to make you feel good. At the same time as the release of these ‘feel good hormones’, stress response hormones such as Cortisol are reduced which will naturally help to improve your mood.
As well as this, exercise can improve your mental wellbeing by providing you with opportunities to leave your worries behind for an hour or so, this will give your body a chance to recover from some of the stress response, your muscles will relax, your mood will improve and you will have a more positive outlook on life.
The current guideline for exercise to reduce stress, anxiety and depression set by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is:
Intensity – 55-95% Max Heart Rate
Time – 20 – 60 minutes
Type – Large muscle group rhythmic enjoyable CV and resistance exercises.
If you feel as though you could benefit from beginning exercise or changing your current routine please get in contact with us and our exercise specialist will be delighted to offer support and advice.