I have spoken on many occasions about the importance of a strong body and mind. I believe that to be “healthy” you need a properly functioning body and mind holistically. When recovering from the negative side effects of medication that was prescribed to me, I found that focusing my exercise program on health and performance drastically accelerated my recovery (Read more about my journey here).
In today’s blog post, I want to describe some of the benefits that I found from my training once it was programmed correctly for health purposes. Exercise is a great tool for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms. Here are 3 ways exercise can help you fight off these negative symptoms:
Exercise Can Help Reduce Mental and Physical Fatigue and Improve Focus and Alertness.
When you are dealing with depression and anxiety, one of the worst symptoms can be mental/physical fatigue. Your body and mind are connected. When you are “focused’ on your worries throughout the day without giving your mind a break it can be very tiring. Wearing out your mind will also make your body feel sluggish and tired. Exercise can help counteract these symptoms. Exercise produces endorphins (chemicals in the brain) which make us feel more energized and increases oxygen levels in the blood. This will reduce the symptoms of feeling sluggish while also improving your focus and alertness.
Exercise Reduces Muscle Tension
When you are stressed, your muscles react and tense up. The muscles that are usually most effected are your shoulders, trapezius, and neck. Exercise helps increase oxygen levels in the blood and improves blood circulation throughout the body. Have you ever noticed when you are stressed that your shoulders are hunched and shrugged up to your ears? Exercise will help your shoulders open up and relax, which will help reduce tension in the rest of your upper body.
Exercise Reduces Stress Hormones
It is widely known and many studies have confirmed that stress is a killer. When you are stressed, there are many negative biochemical and physical reactions that take place (Read my blog post about the negative effects of stress here). An example is an increase in cortisol. Cortisol is not necessarily a “bad” hormone, but too much causes some unwanted problems. High levels of cortisol over a long period of time will increase muscle tension, increase fat storage, and effect your sleep negatively; to name a few. Studies show that exercise helps regulate and reduce cortisol and other stress hormones in your body. During exercise, your stress hormones will increase, but if exercise is programmed correctly and not performed chronically, the stress hormones will decrease overall after the exercise is performed, allowing you to feel better.
TIP: If you are feeling symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, set up an exercise program that you are comfortable performing a few times a week. I cannot stress enough the positive effects an exercise program will have on your symptoms. If you are having trouble setting up a program, read a few of my blog posts about exercise or contact me and we can set up something together!
BONUS TIP: Read my previous blog post about using box breathing to reduce the effects of stress and anxiety (read here). Use this tool to reduce your stress and anxiety in as little as 5-10 minutes.