Do you experience worry, irritability, tension, or other signs of stress?
If so, you’re not alone.
Stress affects everyone, and many stressors are beyond our control. What you do to handle it makes a big difference!
Some stress is good for you, like the kind that makes you more alert or complete a task.
Stress that’s unmanaged and causes fatigue, insomnia, chest pain, or panic attacks is detrimental to your health. When it’s chronic (or distress), it can lead to depression, anxiety, and even heart disease.
That said, there’s something you can do to reduce those anxious feelings – exercise!
Exercise for Stress Management
Exercise reduces levels of stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol, which increase blood pressure and breathing. In turn, exercise increases endorphins, the feel-good hormones that relieve pain and improve mood.
Any exercise that you enjoy doing will help relieve symptoms of anxiety, but low-intensity exercises that won’t leave you injured and even more stressed are beneficial.
A recent study revealed that high-intensity exercise created higher stress levels. Meanwhile, those who performed low-intensity exercise reported lower rates of anxiety and depression. (1)
Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can improve stress management, resilience, memory, and mental health conditions.
Studies show that resistance training at a low-to-moderate intensity decreases anxiety the most in older adults. (2)
Don’t leave out stretching from your workout. Stretching can relieve anxiety by reducing muscle tension in problematic areas. Also, stretching increases serotonin, another feel-good hormone that improves mood and regulates sleep.
(1) Manning, J.R., Notaro, G.M., Chen, E. et al. Fitness tracking reveals task-specific associations between memory, mental health, and physical activity. Sci Rep 12, 13822 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-17781-0
(2) Strickland JC, Smith MA. The anxiolytic effects of resistance exercise. Front Psychol. 2014 Jul 10;5:753. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00753. PMID: 25071694; PMCID: PMC4090891.