When you feel stressed out, it’s common to hear well-meaning advice such as “don’t sweat it.” But sweating (when it occurs during exercise) may be the best medicine to combat stress.  Numerous studies have confirmed the benefits of exercise for mental and physical health.

People who suffer from chronic stress often have jam-packed schedules.  These busy folks cannot fathom how they could squeeze exercise into their already hectic lives. But it is essential to make time for physical exercise. When you are swimming, playing tennis, walking in the park, working in your garden or concentrating on yoga poses, your body produces endorphins, the “feel good” hormones that help fight stress and anxiety. Exercise also reduces stress-induced cortisol which has been linked to serious health problems including heart disease, gastrointestinal problems and heart disease.

A study published in the journal Sports Medicine and Science found that regular exercise can help people cope with even the toughest stressful situations. The study found that cancer patients who embarked on a 10-week program of light to moderate aerobic exercise had significantly increased energy levels and a more positive outlook on life. Another recent study found that quality of life and even medical outcomes improved among women with breast cancer who engaged in regular physical activity.

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Another benefit of exercise is that it helps to improve the quality and duration of sleep; and coping with stressful situations is much easier when you’re well-rested. Experts caution that you should get your exercise at least five hours before bedtime so that your body has the time to cool down before sleep. As an added bonus, regular exercise helps you maintain a healthier weight, reduce body fat and improve muscle tone.

Bear in mind you don’t have to run a marathon or participate in a triathlon to reap the benefits of regular exercise.  Studies have shown that even 10 minutes of exercise a day can help to improve your mood.  As your fitness level improves, increase the amount of time spent exercising. Enjoy the benefits of exercise and sweat away the stress.