All of us have to deal with stress in our daily lives, and many of us suffer consequences to our mental and physical health as a result. While there are a variety of methods out there to mitigate your stress, exercising is one of the most effective and heavily researched.
Keep reading to learn how exercising can reduce your stress level and the many ways you can benefit.
The Relationship Between Aerobic Exercise and Stress
Research has consistently shown that just 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise can produce a calming effect that lasts for several hours. While it’s hard to isolate exactly why this is the case, there are a few possible explanations that make sense.
One likely possibility is that exercise influences neurotransmitters in your brain, such as dopamine and serotonin, which have a significant impact on your mood. Studies on both humans and animals have suggested that physical activity also changes your hormone responses, improving your body’s ability to handle stress in the process.
Another hypothesis is that exercise can serve as a “time-out” from whatever’s stressing you. In other words, when you exercise, you typically push away other thoughts and focus solely on what you’re doing. As a result, you feel temporary relief from your stress and the positive effects can continue to linger even after your workout is finished.
How Much Exercise is Necessary to Manage Your Stress?
You don’t need to turn into a fitness buff to manage your stress – just 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobics or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobics per week can do the trick.
It’s also not necessarily important how long you exercise at a time. For example, if you’re frequently stressed at work throughout your shift, taking 2 or 3 short walks could actually be more beneficial than one long walk. This approach is ideal for the “time-out” concept, giving you repeated breaks as a chance to recharge.
The Benefits of Reducing Stress
Exercising to reduce stress can benefit your health in several ways, some of which are surprising. For instance, many people know that exercising and lowering your stress level will improve your physical health and protect you from cardiovascular issues, but did you know that it reduces your risk of tooth decay?
“Living with a consistently high level of stress puts you at risk for tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems,” says Dr. Thomas Young, a dentist in Fort Worth.
In addition to all the physical benefits, reducing stress greatly improves your mental health as well. With regular exercise, you can conquer depression, anxiety, insecurity, and other psychological issues before they develop into something more severe.
Some other benefits of lowering your stress include:
- Reduces headaches/migraines
- Helps digestion
- Loosens muscles to prevent chronic pain
- Decreases your risk of cancer, strokes, asthma, heart attacks, stomach ulcers, and more
Improve Your Health Today
If you want to live a longer and happier life, managing your stress is extremely important. As you can see, a lower stress level results in a wide range of benefits that can improve all aspects of your health. By developing a moderate aerobic exercise routine, you can reap all these benefits without putting in a tremendous amount of time or effort.