Do you ever feel like you are super busy, and your stress levels are through the roof?

Did you know that exercise is actually a stress reliever?

Any type of exercise can actually help reduce your stress levels!

Let’s talk a bit about exercise and how important it can be to help us decrease our stress.

What is Stress?

Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.

In other words, it is part of our fight or flight response. This is an important response in the appropriate situation, but when our stress is on high alert all the time, it can cause difficulty sleeping, depression, and anxiety.

How Does Exercise Help Relieve Stress?

1. Prevents muscle tension

Exercise provides a release of muscle tension that could be building up over several days or weeks.

Have you ever had a project that is due in a few days and you find yourself with terrible shoulder and neck pain?

Getting up, stretching, and performing a few repetitions of your favorite exercise can relieve the tension and make you more productive!

2. Improves your mood

A good exercise can give you a better outlook on your day. It reduces stress and can even help with difficulty sleeping.

If you feel like you woke up on the wrong side of the bed today, just try a 10-minute warm-up to give you a boost!

3. Meditation

When you get into a good workout, you naturally start to forget about the previous hustle and bustle of your busy day.

This helps clear your mind and reset your thoughts so that you can think more clearly.

4. Endorphins

Endorphins are the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters that give you that feeling of accomplishment after a good workout.

An example is when people talk about a runner’s high. Now most people are reading this and thinking “I don’t run.” or “I can’t run.” and that is ok! You don’t have to be a runner to get those endorphins flowing, just pick a physical activity that interests you and gets you moving!

5. Mindfulness

Exercise can also make you more mindful of how much stress you are keeping cooped up internally. The more you practice your exercise routine, the more aware you are of how your body tension changes.

This can help you determine when you best benefit from exercise (ie. Morning versus afternoon) and what type of exercise helps you relieve tension.

Where to find help? 

Sometimes we feel that we have stress under control, but other times we find our daily stressors can cause us pain.

When exercise or daily movements don’t feel quite right, the next step would be to see a physical therapist for a free consultation to determine if your stress has led to a more physical injury. There are many ways to address your physical needs through manual therapy, muscular re-education, strength training, and more!

Kimberly Painter, PT, DPT  is a licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy at Mettler Center. 

Call 217-398-9800 to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with a physical therapist.

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