Today is National Stress Awareness Day and a perfect opportunity to look into how exercise can help relieve stress. The increase of stress and mental health problems have never been more important than now with the added challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Almost 1 in 5 adults (19.2%) were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in June 2020; this had almost doubled from around 1 in 10 (9.7%) before the pandemic (July 2019 to March 2020).
Statistics from the Office of National Statistics:
Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to positive or negative situations in your life, such as a new job, the death of a loved one - or lockdown as we are experiencing now, where you are unable to see family and friends. Stress itself isn't abnormal or bad. What's important is how you deal with stress. If you're having trouble coping, chronic stress can wear you down and overwhelm you and in some cases lead to a depression.
5 Reasons why exercise can help reduce stress.
There are a lot of ways exercise can be an effective stress relief and help improve your general wellbeing. Establishing an exercise routine is a good idea as it helps you stick with it and you will feel the benefits sooner than when you just exercise as and you feel in the mood for it.
Physical activity can help lower your overall stress levels and improve your quality of life, both mentally and physically.
1. Production of endorphins.
Exercise increases your brain’s production of endorphins. Endorphins are the “feel-good” neurotransmitters that are responsible for the coveted “runner’s high.” This is the sense of wellbeing and euphoria that many people experience after exercise.
2. Positive effect on your mood.
A regular exercise routine can have a positive effect on your mood by relieving the tension, anxiety, anger and mild depression that often go hand-in-hand with stress.
3. Sleep better.
It can improve the quality of your sleep, which can be negatively impacted by stress, depression, and anxiety.
4. A form of meditation and revival of energy.
The repetitive motions involved in exercise promote a focus on your body, rather than your mind and can help take your mind off your worries. By concentrating on the rhythm of your movements, you experience many of the same benefits of meditation while working out. Focusing on a single physical task can produce a sense of energy and optimism. This focus can help provide calmness and clarity.
5. More energy - more confidence.
When you are feeling more energetic and less tired in general a greater sense of positivity often follows which can also help boost your confidence levels.
Other additional benefits from doing regular exercise.
strengthens your muscles and bones
strengthens your immunity, which can decrease your risk of illness and infection
lowers your blood pressure, sometimes as much as some antihypertensive medications
boosts levels of good cholesterol in your blood
improves your blood circulation
improves your ability to control weight
improves flexibility and mobility