Updated: Sep 27, 2018
In todays society, stress is a huge factor in our life due to how busy we are. Everyone responds to stress differently, whether it's a demand or a threat, our body goes into a fight or flight response. This is your bodies way of protecting you!
What are the common causes of Stress?
Stress is a part of life and can be caused by various things. Do you have a large mortgage? Is work stressing you out? Are your grandkids pulling your hair out? Have you just gone through a divorce? Has your GP just told you that you have Diabetes?
Everyone will be stressed through different things in life. Not one person is the same, and not one person will act the same from a specific trigger. Not surprisingly, work has been found to be at the top of the list for the most common cause of stress.
Following is a list of common stresses:
working long hours
hating your job
death in the family
loss of a job
a traumatic event
The list can go on. However, there is a some good news! Exercise can help manage and decrease your levels of stress through different forms including resistance and aerobic training, if incorporated into your weekly routine.
What are the common signs of Stress?
The fight or flight stress response can help us in the short term, but chronic stress in the long term can be quite damaging to your health, physically and mentally. Chronic stress, if left untreated can lead to health conditions including but not limited to high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease and Diabetes. You cannot eliminate stress completely in your life, but you can reduce it! Stress is a part of everyones life.
There are many different signs you are stressed, however the main ones include:
Upset stomach, including diarrhoea, constipation, and nausea
Aches, pains, and tense muscles
Frequent colds and infections
Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
How can exercise help?
Exercise is a very cheap and accessible 'like' medication for everyone who goes through those life stresses. Physical activity has the ability to release endorphins, which is a chemical released in the brain to act like a pain killer and a 'happy drug'. This chemical helps to reduce stress, and encourages a better nights sleep, which will in turn make tomorrow a better day.
Studies show that exercise is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. Ten minutes of aerobic exercise has been proven to kick start the effect on reducing your stress levels!
You should always build up your exercise slowly, to reduce the likelihood of any injuries. They say you should always walk before you run! You need to build your fitness levels up slowly and not get too excited about your new exercise regime too quickly. I would suggest to start going for a 20-30 minute walk every day, and then increase it slowly to an hour. I would then suggest you integrate some running into the walk, so walk-run and go from there. You can incorporate body weight exercises to build muscle and then slowly progress to weights. Incorporating resistance training 2-3 times per week with a day between each session, and 4-5 sessions of moderate aerobic exercise weekly will play a role in reducing and managing your stress levels. Just remember, start slowly and build up to it, something is better than nothing!
If you think its time to reduce and manage your stress levels and don't know where to start, book in to see one of our Accredited Exercise Physiologists today for an individualised exercise program that will suit you and your needs. You won't just reduce stress if you incorporate exercise into your daily routine, exercise can do so much more! Check out www.seniorsfitness.net.au if you would like to know what other conditions exercise can help.
You should always check with your health care practitioner before starting a new exercise regime.