EXERCISE: A STRESS RELIEVER
St. Xavier's College (Autonomous),
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Any sort of alteration that results in physical, emotional, or mental strain can be called stress. Everyone experiences some degree of stress at some point in time but what makes the difference in your response to stress. A little stress acts as a spur for anybody fretting over an exam or a looming deadline whereas a lot of stress is just like a stumbling block. Chronic stress triggers a host of ailments including heart diseases, depression, anxiety, which affects the working of our memory systems as it hinders the way we form or retrieve memories.
Fortunately, to balance out the bad here is good news. Stress is inevitable and cannot be eliminated nevertheless we can learn to manage stress. The majority of people watch movies or T.V., exercise regularly, sleep, eat or prefer talking to friends or families, listen to music to cope up with stress.
While all the above-stated practices can be useful in surmounting stress, exercising may be one most suggested by health care experts. We are well-acquainted with the physical health benefits of exercising yet psychological benefits are often overlooked. But according to research, exercising is quite advantageous for mental health and also improves the symptoms of mental disorders.
IMPACT OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES ON MENTAL ILLNESS
When stress affects the brain, the entire body faces the repercussions as well. If your body feels wholesome, so does your mind as a healthy brain resides in a healthy body. Various symptoms of depression viz fatigue, tension, anger, etc, can be alleviated by exercising regularly. For people with panic disorders or anxiety-related conditions, exercising is a great way to release pent-up tension. Physical activity produces endorphins which act as natural painkillers. It has been found that a workout of low to moderate intensity lowers the nervousness, elevates the mood, improves sleep, and in turn stimulates anti-anxiety effects.
There are several types of exercises that one can do like yoga, tai chi (an ancient Chinese martial arts form), swimming, aerobic exercise. But choosing an activity that you enjoy is the most important to get going.
WHY IS EXERCISING NECESSARY FOR POSITIVE WELL-BEING
Exercising improves your health on the whole and your sense of well-being. It also has some direct stress-busting effects by enhancing your mood, improved energy levels, and promoting quality of sleep.
Decreases stress hormones:
Exercise decreases stress hormones like cortisol and pumps up "feel-good" hormones - endorphins that lift up your mood.
Distracts you from negative emotions:
Exercising imitates a fight or flight response which succor your body and its system is functioning simultaneously through such responses. This shields your body from the inimical effects of stress and also prevails positive effects.
A credible source of social support:
Physical activities are analogous to social activities. The benefits of social support are amply documented. If you enroll in a Zumba class or go for a run in a park, you will realize that working out in a group is an extremely good way of easing your tension.
It’s just like meditation in motion:
You can feel a sense of relief just after a rapid football match or several laps in the pool. It is because while performing any physical activity you focus on the movement of your body parts and let go of all the worries. One can stay calm and serene in everything he performs by concentrating on body movements.
Acts as a mood lifter:
Regular exercising can increase self-confidence, improves your mood and sleep thus, giving you a feeling of relief. Positive effects of working out can reduce your stress levels by providing you command over your body as well as life.
Whatever you do, exercise should be made a part of your everyday living rather than just considering it as an additional thing on your to-do list. Find an activity that you enjoy and set up SMART goals - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals. Almost every activity assists you to take the load off and is a necessary approach to mitigate stress.
Aylett Elizabeth, Small Nicola, Bower Peter, July 16, 2018, Exercise in the treatment of clinical anxiety in general practice – a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Caldwell Alison, June 19, 2018, The Neuroscience Of Stress, (source: BrainFacts/SfN).
Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress, August 18, 2020.
Physical Activity Reduces Stress, (source:https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st).
Star Katharina, August 10, 2019, How Physical Exercise Benefits Mental Health. (source:
Z.Mazyarkin, T.Peleg, I.Golany, L.Sharony, I.Kremer, A.Shamir, March 8, 2019, Health benefits of a physical exercise program for inpatients with mental health; a pilot study.
IMAGE SOURCE: https://www.verywellmind.com/thmb/X1dHloQUoiZs4yEPGiba6axHISI=/1100x0/filters:no_upscale():max_bytes(150000):strip_icc():format(webp)/physical-exercise-for-panic-disorder-and-anxiety-2584094-46ced8438445468eb55395eb1d818496.png