It’s well known that regular physical exercise reduces stress.  Numerous studies have shown that almost any kind of physical exercise, from tennis to hiking is an effective way of inducing calm, relaxing tense muscles and elevating your mood.  What is interesting is how breaking a sweat regularly has such a positive impact on your mood, body and life in general.

Cortisol Endorphins and Stress

It seems counter-productive to exercise when physical exertion causes the body to release the stress hormone cortisol.  But cortisol is a very natural substance produced by the body to energize us in stressful situations, often called the flight or fight hormone.  Prolonged stress causes cortisol to leak into the body, which causes damage to the cells over time and actually atrophies the brain. Stressed out people are often forgetful, too.

A burst of energy like a brisk walk or a game of tennis has the wonderful effect of flushing your brain with healthy and helpful hormones along with cortisol that stimulates the mind and muscles so that you can think more clearly, feel stronger and feel more energized.

Exercise causes the release of neuro-hormones like norepinephrine that improve your cognitive function and stimulate the body’s physiological systems. Your cardiovascular system leaps into action and rushes fresh oxygen and glucose to your cells and flushes out waste. Your muscles are activated and cortisol levels are restored to normal when you are finished with your exertion, thus relieving stress levels.

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How Does Physical Exercise Reduce Stress?

Exercise gives you a physical and mental boost. The more you do it the better you will feel. Your waistline will shrink, your back will ache less and you’ll have more feel good hormones circulating through your body.  When you look better, you tend to feel better.

Sleeping Beauty

Not sleeping well causes elevated stress levels. The more you can’t sleep, the more stressed out about it you get, and the less you can sleep. It’s a vicious cycle. Exercise interrupts that merry-go-round by helping you sleep better. It reduces stress and induces sleep because tired muscles need rest and recovery.

The Fitness Fairy Tale

Working physical exercise into your life to reduce stress is really quite easy.  You don’t have to spend hours at the gym or run ten miles. Just 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise that elevates your respiration and heart rate will significantly reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

Always check with your doctor before you start any kind of program using physical exercise to reduce stress especially if you have physical limitations. There are plenty of different types of that can induce a healthy sweat. Walking, swimming, playing tennis, or a spin class, are all beneficial to your mind and body.  In addition to the physical gains, the social aspect of getting together with others helps you enjoy it more.  It promotes a sense of relaxation and a positive attitude, so you can live happily ever after.