Stress – it affects everyone. It can even be a good thing in small doses. Normal everyday stress can give us that rush of energy when we need it most. But our bodies aren’t made to be in high-alert mode constantly. When stress is intense or long-lasting, it harms us mentally and physically. Chronic stress can cause digestive issues, headaches, sleeplessness, depression, anxiety – and even heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
April is National Stress Awareness Month, and we have a helpful tip: get moving. Exercise is one of the most powerful weapons against stress.
According to the American Heart Association, exercise lowers tension, improves mood, increases energy and improves sleep. It reduces the levels of your body’s stress hormones and boosts the production of endorphins – your brain’s natural mood-lifters and painkillers. These endorphins are responsible for what’s commonly called the ‘runner’s high.’ Exercise also lets you concentrate on your body’s physical motions, helping you forget the day’s struggles that otherwise flood your mind.
What type of exercise do doctors recommend? Anything. Basketball, yoga, brisk walks. Virtually all physical activity helps you fight stress. Pick something you enjoy. Need ideas? Ask your doctor, consult one of our health coaches or ask friends what they do. The possibilities are endless.
If you still feel like you’re constantly overwhelmed or having trouble relaxing, schedule a visit with your medical provider.
Exercise is just one of many tools to fight stress. Visit the links below for more information and resources on stress management.
Does your job leave you stressed, perhaps to an unhealthy level? Learn about stress and the workplace in this month’s episode of Allied and Well, our new podcast focused on health and wellness. Listen here.