Presented by BetterHelp.
There is a handful of reliable stress relievers that people turn to. These are typically spa days, retail therapy, watching movies, and even exercise. Believe it or not, there is scientific evidence backing all of these stress relievers. The truth is, different things help different people relieve stress. But, one stress reliever that is highly effective and very popular is exercise.
How Does Exercise Help Reduce Stress?
Exercise, in particular, has a considerable amount of evidence backing it as a stress reliever. According to the American Psychological Association, nearly one third of American adults say exercise is an effective stress reliever for them. Additionally, 40 percent of American adults say exercise puts them in a better mood. This makes exercise one of the most popular forms of stress relief. Just a quick 30 to 60-minute workout is exactly what people need to feel better. But, how is it so effective?
It Mimics Fight or Flight
According to the renowned Mayo Clinic, exercise helps mimic your body’s natural response to stress, being fight or flight. Whether if you are lifting weights or if you are running, both mimic these stress responses. This can help your body get over the stress and complete the process of stress. When your body feels as though it has “escaped” the stress through exercise, you could feel substantially better. So, if you ever want to run away from your problems, consider actually going on a run to see if it helps.
After a stressful day, there’s nothing better than accomplishing a great workout. This small accomplishment can be the only thing you need to turn your day around. On the other hand, starting your day with an effective workout can make you feel accomplished and productive. The accomplishment can boost your self-esteem, giving you the confidence to conquer whatever is stressing you out that day.
However, if someone uses exercise as punishment, it can become stressful to exercise. For some people, exercising can become a self-inflicted punishment if they overeat or if they weigh in slightly heavier. This completely eliminates the stress relieving benefits of exercise. So, if you start to feel this way about exercise, find a different outlet to relieve stress.
It Produces Endorphins
Exercise is one of the activities in which endorphins are naturally produced. Endorphins are chemicals that your body produces as a natural painkiller. The feeling endorphins provide are very similar to that of morphine, euphoric and free. This is why many runners experience the “Runner’s High.” They feel similar effects of morphine, just because they are working out. This feeling alone is a stress reliever within itself.
Endorphins also help to minimize the perception of pain. Chronic pain or migraines often cause significant stress in patients. Because endorphins are so similar to morphine, which is a prescription pain killer, exercise can be very helpful to those experiencing pain. However, if you are experiencing pain because of an injury, it’s important to note that exercise may make it worse. Consult with your doctor before exercising to ensure you won’t inflict more damage to your body.
Using Exercise as a Stress Reliever
If you are under a great deal of stress, consider exercising a few times per week. Three to five 30-minute workouts each week can help lower your stress levels quickly and naturally. Unless you have an injury or pre-existing condition, exercise is only great for you – mentally and physically. So, start exercising today and let stress roll off your shoulders.