Any form of exercise helps to reduce stress because when we exercise, our brain gets a signal to release endorphins, also referred to as “happy hormones”.
Endorphins are small protein molecules that are produced by cells in our nervous system and other parts of the body.* Endorphins are defined as hormone-like substances that are produced in the brain and function as the body’s natural painkillers. During exercise, these endorphins are released, and this can produce feelings of euphoria and a general state of well-being.**
Three reasons why exercise can release stress:
- Mood improvement: regular exercise has been found to help improve symptoms of depression and certain types of anxiety, as well as to improve your ability to sleep better. Proper sleep helps people to have an overall sense of well-being.
- Emotional stress release: if you have taken a kick boxing class this concept will be familiar to you. Different forms of exercise can help us release emotional stress. If we are mad or upset at someone, exercise will channel these emotions so that you can release them. It is a positive and healthy way to release feelings that may be bottled up inside.
- Socialize more: being exposed to friends or new acquaintances through exercise activities can help reduce stress by socializing. Breaking the routine of work or home life and being part of a group where exercise is the main activity helps to break the pattern of any stressors that may be affecting you.
Even though, most types of exercise can help to reduce stress levels, some are more recommended than others. You need to engage in exercise activities that you are comfortable with and that you can perform within your fitness level. For example, training for an ironman triathlon is not a very stress free activity. Keep your choice of exercise to one that may challenge you, but will not push you to your limits.
The most popular exercise activities to help you reduce stress are: swimming, biking, walking, martial arts, yoga, tai chi, moderate resistant training and water sports such as surfing and body boarding.
Keeping a healthy body is a major factor in controlling the effects that daily stress may have on your health. You need to do more than keeping a positive outlook and a good sense humor to face each day´s adversities. Therefore, adding at least 30 to 50 minutes of moderate exercise to your daily routine will go a long way to protect your health.