Exercise for Stress Reduction
By Shelby Wood, CommunityCare of Lyme Manager of Program Development
I have a love-hate relationship with running. It’s been a few years since I’ve been consistent in training and getting back into it can be frustrating. My split times now are not what they were previously, which can be pretty discouraging. Then I remember a teacher who once said that he “runs to eat cake”, and that summarizes why I love running. Or, at least partly. The part that I hate about running is the first 2 miles. When I was running regularly it would take me that long to find a rhythm and fully quiet my mind. That is the other part of why I love running. At a certain point the thoughts were much less loud and my focus was on what I was doing in the moment.
You may be wondering why I’m sharing about my love-hate relationship with running, so I’ll explain. As we welcome April, we also welcome Stress Awareness Month. This week we explore the value of exercise as an adaptive coping strategy for stress reduction. Having said that, running may not be your thing and that’s okay! There are many ways to be physically active that have the same effect on alleviating symptoms of stress.
According to the Mayo Clinic Staff (2020)
“Exercise and stress relief”: increases endorphins (“feel good” neurotransmitters in our brain – think “runner’s high”); reduces stress’ negative effects; is a means to meditate while in motion; improves mood; improves sleep.
“Put exercise and stress relief to work for you”: should be done in consultation with your doctor; should be done slowly (walk before you run); do what you and your body enjoy doing for exercise; put it into your agenda
“Stick with it” Create SMART goals; have an accountability buddy; mix up your exercise routine; exercise in short bursts
In a nutshell: engage in physical activity that you enjoy with people that help motivate you. As you begin being more consistent in making this time for yourself you will begin to notice the positive impact that exercise can have on your lifestyle through reducing stress levels, improving sleep, improving mood and more!
Mayo Clinic Staff. “Exercise and Stress: Get Moving to Manage Stress.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 18 Aug. 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469.
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Manager of Program Development
CommunityCare of Lyme