If you already have an appointment with exercise, you know working out relieves stress. Most people go to the gym or start an exercise program to lose weight, get fitter and just stay younger and healthier. After a few sessions, they start to realize that all the problems and hassles of the day that were pent up inside don’t bother them nearly as much. That gnawing feeling in the pit of their stomach no longer was there. That’s because the workout left them feeling more relaxed and helped eliminate the side effects of stress.
The fight or flight response makes changes in the system.
When you’re under stress, your body is equipped to survive. Originally, the stress for caveman came from the danger of being attacked by a wild animal or enemy, so the response was suitable. Hormones like adrenaline, were released. Those made the heart beat faster, the flow of blood changed and went from the body surface to the muscles, brain, legs and arms, muscles tensed and pupils dialated to improve vision. Caveman was ready to take on whatever scared him or run like the wind. Today, the response isn’t appropriate for either action. Punching an angry boss is no more appropriate than running from a crying baby, so the hormones of stress are never burnt off and you remain in the constant state of arousal.
Burning off those stress hormones is important.
Here’s where exercise plays an important role. Since running or fighting was what the response prepared humans for, it only seems right that going to the gym, running on your favorite path in the park or getting any type of rigorous exercise should solve the problem. It does that and even more.
Exercise also stimulates the body to create happy hormones.
If you’re running from a foe, a really big one, you don’t want to stop because your leg aches or you’ve twisted your ankle. Mother Nature had that handled, too. There’s no need to stop. In fact, even if the adrenaline wears off, you might not feel that pain. Exercise produces hormones like dopamine and endorphins that act similar to drugs like codeine and morphine, interacting with the opiate receptors in the brain. Not only does it reduce the awareness of pain, the hormones created by exercise also leave you with a feeling of well being.
- Even though the effects of the endorphins from exercise last about 20 to 30 minutes, you sleep better at night and a good night’s sleep can help you cope with the next day’s stresses.
- Exercise also is used as part of the therapy for depression, anxiety and phobias because of the feeling of well being that occurs.
- The effects of exercise are so powerful, exercise is also part of drug and alcohol addiction recovery. It’s been shown to reduce relapse rates, improved mood, boosted the immune system and helped recovering addicts sleep better.
- Exercise is a far better treatment for mild depression and stress than any medication. The only side effects it has is a great looking body and good health.