As part of National Stress Awareness Day we are discussing how exercise can help manage stress.

Stress can be described as the way someone feels when they perceive a situation to be applying an abnormal pressure on their psychological and physiological well being. Everybody copes with stress in different ways. For some, stress is a positive factor which helps drive them to achieve more; whereas, for others it can become a limiting condition. There are also different types of stress; those which typically affect people in a negative way include the worries associated with money, work, family life and relationships alongside significant changes in life.

Exercise alone cannot prevent stress; however, exercise and physical activity has been scientifically proven to help manage stress. Let’s look at 8 ways exercise can help manage stress.

  1. When you exercise, you release feel good hormones such as serotonin and endorphins which help you feel more positive and in control. The stress related hormone cortisol is also reduced during exercise too.
  2. It provides a distraction from the worries and stresses that work and life can create. It allows you time to focus on yourself, clear your mind and approach life with a more positive spin on it.
  3. Exercise improves cognitive function and therefore improves concentration and reduces fatigue (when coupled with sufficient rest and recovery).
  4. A regular exercise routine is likely to encourage better sleeping patterns and allow you to get in to a deeper level of sleep. Sleep is extremely important for everyone including those that experience stress in their lives as sleep deprivation only magnifies the problems.
  5. It provides a sense of discipline. If you can get into a daily routine of exercising then you will achieve an array of health benefits including improved mental well being, but even more than that you will start to find the discipline and routine will move into other areas of life allowing you to keep control over factors that can cause stress.
  6. Exercise will help improve confidence either through priding yourself on achieving goals, improving your aesthetics and self-image or even through helping yourself feel full of vitality and energy by maintaining a regular exercise routine.
  7. You can develop a new social circle of friends who have the same motivations and prioritise as you.
  8. Stress can cause a variety of physical symptoms too such as muscle tension and headaches. Regular activity and stretching can help reduce this muscular tension which in turn can help make the associated feelings of stress decrease too.

As part of National Stress Awareness Day, I think it is important to make your current clients and potential clients aware of the benefits of exercise for managing stress so they can help themselves, or significant people in their lives, to take control and help their physiological and psychological well being.