Fitness Friday: Get Moving to Manage Stress

FORT MYERS, Fla. – As we get closer to the holiday season, things get busier, days get shorter, and for most of us that means more stress.

Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, and stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Although the feeling is often referred to as a runner’s high, an interval workout or spin class can have the same affect.

The problem is that much of today’s stress doesn’t require either physical fighting or running away. But your body still provides the chemicals for it. The best and most logical way to deal with the chemicals is to actually do some exercise.

Some exercise, like jumping rope, running, or cycling, let you get into a rhythm. That rhythmic flow of a repeated action relaxes your mind. It’s a bit like focusing on nothing and everything at the same time.

Lack of sleep often leads to a vicious cycle. You become more stressed and anxious during the day, which means it’s even harder to sleep at night. Exercise helps break that cycle. When you sleep well, you’ll have more energy and be more productive.

As your waistline shrinks and your strength and stamina increase, your self-image will improve. You’ll earn a sense of pride and self-confidence. Regular exercise is proven to increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety.

If stressful days have you reaching for a pint of ice cream you’re giving your body a double whammy of bad. Do some exercise instead! Exercise becomes the outlet instead of self-sabotaging with a diet derailer.