Stress is a common aspect of life, and in small amounts is often necessary to create desired outcomes efficiently. Examples of common stressful situations include work deadlines, or responding to dangerous situations quickly. When stress becomes a constant, or poorly managed element in our lives however, it can negatively impact many areas of our lives, including our physical and mental health, and relationships.
Fight or Flight | Stress and Exercise
Part of the process we go through during periods of high stress includes the ‘Fight or Flight’ response. In a state of stress, our brains prepare our bodies to either literally fight or escape a stressful or dangerous situation by flooding our systems with chemicals including adrenalin and the stress hormone, cortisol. This is highly useful to avoid danger of any form, as our muscles are supplied the resources to respond quickly.
Survival of The Fittest
Historically, this response assisted our ancestors to fight or hunt dangerous predators, or provide the necessary energy to flee to safety instead. Unfortunately without an appropriate physical outlet today however, the stress hormones that are released during stressful situations at work or home, build up. The resulting common physical symptoms of stress occur including: muscular tension, headaches, tight jaws, or difficulty sleeping.
Exercise Benefits | Stress and Exercise
There are many natural ways to manage both the physical and mental effects of stress however. Exercise has been demonstrated to naturally reduce stress and as a result, cortisol levels. In fact, exercise is demonstrated to be essential for many systems within our bodies, including: the immune, muscular, skeletal, blood and lymphatic systems.
Body and Mind | Stress and Exercise
In addition, studies indicate that just 30 minutes of exercise 3 – 4 times per week, particularly aerobic exercise – increases our focus, response to stimuli, and increases our brain’s protective ‘strength’ against diseases including Alzeihmer’s and Dementia. Studies also indicate that exercise benefits the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, including specifically an increase in the ‘feel good’ hormones – Dopamine and Serotonin. The positive results are demonstrated to last up to two hours post exercise.
Exercise at Home – Get Moving!
The simplest way to enhance both your mental and physical health during periods of stress is to get moving! This may mean running laps of your local park or oval, kicking a football with the kids or just walking around the block. Any physical activity increases oxygen supply and blood flow to the brain contributing to a positive mindset and sense of wellbeing. Not near a park? Get creative. Push-ups or plank on the lounge room floor, or sit-ups against the couch are all other options to help you get your blood flowing.
Beyond Blue Support
If you would like to access confidential mental health support during this time, Beyond Blue can be reached online: www.beyondblue.org.au or by phone: 1300 224 636
For further information regarding self care options including free 15 minute Telehealth consultations, please contact us via email or book online. Access to free online resources including our stretch and exercise video library, can also be found online.
Stress and Exercise