Regular exercise has a wide variety of benefits, from increasing your mood and mental health to helping to improve your strength, stamina and generally boosting your physical health. However, one of the most beneficial things that regular exercise does for you is that it helps you to manage and mitigate your stress levels. This article aims to explain why high stress levels are a problem and how exercise can help you deal with that problem.
Why is Stress a Problem?
Stress is not necessarily a problem. It is often considered an exclusively negative emotion and something to be avoided at all costs, but the truth is stress can be helpful in certain contexts. According to experts, there are two kinds of stress – a purely negative one, labeled “distress”, and one that can be considered positive, labeled “eustress”.
Eustress can be caused by starting a new job or healthy work pressure and specifically refers to small doses of stress that help motivate you to reach your goals.
Conversely, distress refers to high levels of negative stress and can lead to all kinds of terrible health effects. For example, unregulated distress can result in unhealthy eating, skin problems, psychological turmoil, and even a higher risk of chronic diseases.
For this article, stress shall refer exclusively to the unhealthy levels of stress that the researchers have labeled distress.
How is Stress Caused?
Many things can cause stress in unhealthy amounts, and often, as an adult with many responsibilities, it is easy to become exposed to a large amount of stress quickly. Some common causes of stress include:
Pressure. While a little pressure can be good for you, too much can cause rapid development of stress and fears of failure, which can become too much for you to handle easily.
Having Many Responsibilities. Responsibilities in life are unavoidable. However, taking on too many can easily leave you feeling overwhelmed and cause you damaging amounts of stress.
Living in Times of Uncertainty. When you find yourself in a situation where the world is changing rapidly around you and feel powerless to stop it or even understand it, it can be extremely stressful. For example, new technology supplanting older concepts, such as bitcoin replacing old currency, can cause stress.
How Exercise Helps
Exercise helps to mitigate stress in a few ways. According to Harvard, one of the ways that exercise helps reduce stress is linked to the stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, that your body produces. According to experts, exercise helps lower these hormones while also stimulating the production of endorphins, which will help boost your mood.
Further, the effect that exercise has on your body is another way that exercise helps reduce stress. Regular exercise will help boost your metabolism, increase your heart’s health, strengthen your muscles, and lessen your weight. These changes help make you feel better about yourself, both physically and mentally, and as a result, your stress levels will drop further.
Author Bio: Adrian’s passion for health and fitness sees him pushing himself to the limits, whether he’s rambling around the English countryside, bungee jumping in New Zealand, or camping under the stars in Yosemite. Now a freelance sports writer, Adrian firmly believes the great outdoors is there for all to explore and enjoy.