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Reducing Stress With Exercise

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Many people exercise to reduce stress. Why is it effective in doing this from a mental and physical viewpoint?

Any form of physical activity is an amazing way to relieve stress. Physical activity not only boosts our bodies ability to use oxygen but it can also improve blood flow. As you probably already know, exercise releases feel good hormones such as endorphins and serotonin into the brain. 

Furthermore, exercise can also provide you with a distraction, taking your mind off work stresses, daily tasks and other issues you may be experiencing. While it doesn’t directly problem solve, exercise can provide clarity and allow for a more rational mindset. 

While some people experience immediate euphoria after exercising, others can feel it over a longer period of time. Benefits of exercises (mental and physical) is built up by sticking to a consistent routine. 

Why is it that if you exercise for more than 60 minutes you may actually be putting the body under more stress?

The hormone cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone, has been shown to increase if you over exercise and over strain your body. Stress is often linked to a mental process; however, we tend to disregard the effect it can have on our body physically. Exercising too much, or not performing stretches or cooldowns when you do exercise can cause a number of physical strains on our muscles, including tears or exercising too quickly after an injury.

Performing high intensity exercise for over 60 minutes a day can be shown to affect blood levels and neurotransmitters that can lead to feelings of stress, depression and chronic fatigue. So, stick to between around 30 – 60 minutes of exercise 5 times a week to get the benefits you need and allow your body to recover. 

Is it OK to exercise every day for under an hour and not put your body under physical stress?

It is perfectly fine to exercise for under an hour every day, depending on the workout you choose. Some exercises like HIIT training can be more beneficial in shorter bursts. The healthy stress your body undergoes during HIIT sessions triggers autophagy, which put simply is the process your body goes through to clean out damaged cells and regenerate newer, healthier cells to help the body achieve optimum health, as well as being anti-ageing.

The NHS recommends exercising between 15-30 minutes every day, or 150 minutes per week. It is greatly beneficial to mix up your weekly routine, by switching between high intensity exercises like HIIT that can last 15-30 minutes and low intensity exercises such as long walks and cycling. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add about stress and exercise, and how to use exercise for stress reduction?

While all types of exercise help with stress reduction, aerobic exercise is considered most beneficial. Exercises such as biking, walking, jogging, running or swimming have an incredible effect on your body and mind. 

Doing exercises outside can also help relieve stress. Fresh air does wonders for the mind. It’s way more enjoyable than exercising in a stuffy room, plus fresh oxygen stimulates the release of happiness hormones and boosts your immune system. A change of scenery also means your workouts never have to be boring or repetitive when you can choose different spots outside. 

Fitness apps like Freeletics provide you with a regimented fitness routine that fits in with your life, as well as providing you with audio courses to help you overcome stress, anxiety and a sense of overwhelming. With all the tools you need, Freeletics will allow you to reach your full potential.