Benefits of Daily Aerobic Exercise on Anxiety and Stress
This is a Guest Post written by: Ryan Rivera of Calm Clinic:
Aerobic exercise. It’s heralded for its ability to promote weight loss by burning up the day’s calories, it is strongly recommended as the best way to improve heart health, and it’s believed to be a good way to tone your muscles and strengthen your calves. Most people know the benefits of aerobic exercise on your physical health, because aerobic exercise is one of the most important forms of fitness.
Yet few people take up aerobic exercise because most people aren’t really that bothered by their fitness level. They may feel the aches and pains of aging, or the fatigue of poor health, but otherwise they’re living their lives and going about their day and would rather not inconvenience themselves by spending 30 minutes a day out running.
It turns out that aerobic exercise does much more than that. Aerobic exercise may not only be a valuable tool for fitness – it may also be a valuable tool for mental health.
Exercise for Stress and Anxiety
Research has discovered that daily aerobic exercise may be as beneficial for daily stress as some of the most powerful modern anti-anxiety medications. That is because aerobic exercise has several qualities that can actually change the mind and body in a way that makes it easier to live stress free. Some of these include:
Within your brain are chemicals known as neurotransmitters that affect the way you think and feel. Endorphins are one example of these neurotransmitters. Endorphins are natural painkillers, so when you run, your body releases heavy amounts of these endorphins so that you experience no bone or joint pain while jogging. It turns out that these same neurotransmitters actually improve your mood as well, creating a feeling of high and euphoria that is not only incredibly relaxing, but also melts stress away.
Also within your body is a hormone known as cortisol. In small doses cortisol is beneficial, but in high doses it can actually be toxic. It damages your DNA and creates nearly all of the sensations that lead to stress and anxiety. Stress releases heavy amounts of the cortisol hormone, causing both a physical and mental health response. Aerobic activity actually burns up cortisol, so your body is free of the stress-inducing hormone.
Stress is somewhat cyclical, in that if you feel stress or tension in your muscles, you’re more likely to have stressful thoughts, which increases the tension in your muscles, etc. Aerobic exercise – especially jogging – tires out the muscles so that they cannot experience that tension. In turn, your less tense body feels more relaxed, and your mind tends to relax with it.
Finally, while stress tends to keep you awake, jogging tires your body enough that when you sleep you’re bound to sleep better than you would have if you had not jogged. Sleep is also an incredibly important tool for coping with stress, because it helps your mind think more clearly and your body and hormones react in a healthier way when you do experience stress. So while it’s not direct by any means, if jogging improves your sleep, you get yet another benefit of aerobic activity against stress.
Aerobic Activity and Stress
Numerous studies have shown that long term stress is one of the key causes of unhealthy aging, illness, weakened immune system, and a lower quality of life. Aerobic activity is a natural, quick, and easy way to reduce the effects of stress on your mind and body. While aerobic activity should already be considered to help with modern day fitness, the way that jogging and other aerobics benefit your mental health should not be ignored either. If you suffer from regular stress and anxiety, adding an aerobic workout to your routine can be a tremendous help.
About the Author: Ryan Rivera used jogging as an anxiety treatment, and still jogs every day to keep his stress at bay. He has information on anxiety and stress at www.calmclinic.com.