A way to counteract the effects of stress is with exercise. Research has found that exercises improves our quality of life and plays a significant role in decreasing overall stress. This is why in today’s world where we are not able to be so active as a result of a sedentary lifestyle at desks during the day and on the couch watching television, or streaming series, at night getting a gym membership or being proactively active during the weekend instead of socialising and drinking has gained immense popularity.
More research needs to be done around the role that exercise plays in reducing stress but an association has been found where it has been suggested that exercise may improve mental health by helping the brain cope better with stress, according to research into the effect of exercise on neurochemicals involved in the body's stress response. It is because of this that the research is expanding and some researchers are looking at possible links between exercise and brain chemicals associated with stress, anxiety and depression.
To get more in-depth, the mental benefits of aerobic exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body's stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators. What endorphins really are is not fully known but there is no doubting that when they are released during exercise people give their first-hand accounts of feeling a high and something akin to euphoria. It is because of this that exercising, working out, and participating in sports is addictive. The good kind of addiction.
Another way that exercise helps to alleviate to stress is linked to the fact that all the systems of the body are engaged all at once, working in happy unison. There is a deeper connection and understanding within while you are challenging yourself physically and mentally, maintaining focus and being determined.
Sleep is often tied to being happier and depending on how you sleep will determine how you will feel overall the next day. When you’re exercising regularly you’ll experience better sleep cycles, meaning that your body will get accustomed to a routine and your mental state will experience upliftment.
Speaking about routine, exercise requires that you do it often and usually when you’re fitting it into your busy schedule you’ll be doing it at the same time every day. An organised life means that you will be able to plan in advance and without that feeling of clutter in your head you’ll have more time to focus on what is important – what you make of every single day.
Sometimes we all just need “me time” and an opportunity to escape for a little and focus on yourself. Exercise is usually a personal journey and although you may have a training partner you’ll be able to take yourself out of work and general life and focus solely on self-improvement and your wellbeing. This is why corporate wellness programmes have become key to any large organisation, as employers realise that when they show the employees that they value them on a deeper, more personal level that work productivity increases and overall satisfaction.
There are also different forms of exercises that mean different things. HIIT training boosts your metabolism and gets the blood flowing quickly throughout your entire system. Pushing yourself to your limits can be quite fun, albeit tough. On the other end of the spectrum is the mindfulness and meditation that can be practised when doing yoga. It may be a completely different way of approaching yourself but getting to know your body on a deeper, more complex level will help you to understand what is important to you and allow you to value yourself more. Exercise fosters a strong connection with the self and a connected means of building your self-esteem.
All-in-all, the results show both physically and psychologically, inside and out. There is no denying that when you look better and start to see the results, having the body that you want and being comfortable with who are you makes you feel better. This isn’t to say that you should have shredded abs, big muscles or a unrealistically toned body but this is about you and with exercise you can achieve your goals. The challenges that you will pose to yourself throughout your journey will also build confidence in overcoming obstacles that have nothing to do with your training life, but all the aspects of your life as well.