Personal trainer Chiara Lewis explains why taking regular exercise is a great way of managing stress
Improved cardiovascular function, metabolic boost, bone density and weight loss are among the many well known benefits of regular physical activity – but there are there also major pluses for our mental health. Almost any type of exercise has the capacity to exhilarate and relax, to combat depression and dissipate stress. But exactly how does exercise help with complex stress-related issues?
The roots of stress are emotional. It comes from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress typically produces mental symptoms such as worry, irritability, restlessness, insomnia, fatigue, and even panic. It also produces physical symptoms that can include muscle tension, headaches, neck and back pain, clenched jaw, intestinal issues, rapid breathing and a racing pulse.
The ﬁrst thing recommended to tackle stress is to address the triggers that cause you to be stressed via behavioural changes. Secondly, tackling stress through exercise is effective for the following reasons:
It naturally enhances our mood
A brisk walk, run, 30 minutes high-intensity interval training or simply a calming yoga session can stimulate the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural mood elevators.
Enables a focus on breathing
When we engage in physical activities – especially in practices like yoga, barre and pilates – we become more aware about our breathing patterns. Rapid, shallow, erratic breathing is a common response to stress. When we exercise and focus on a deeper, slower and regular breathing we can feel calmer and more in control.
Speaking about feeling in control, many triggers of stress are related to things that we don’t have control over. By relinquishing control to a personal trainer, ﬁtness instructor, or by joining a class we instantly feel more relaxed.
Stimulates creativity and boosts self-esteem
When our body is busy, our mind is distracted from the daily worries and we instantly feel freer and start thinking more creatively. As our body tones and our strength and stamina increase, our self-acceptance also improves. We’ll then earn a sense of achievement and self-conﬁdence. Our renewed energy allows us to succeed in other aspects of our lives and the newly gained discipline can help us achieve important goals.
About the author
Chiara Lewis is the founder of totalbodystudio.tv