If one of your resolutions, or goals, is to find a way to handle stress and another is to get fit – you’re in for a pleasant surprise because one of the best ways to achieve one is also one of the best ways to achieve the other.
People spend a great deal of time trying to find ways of coping with stress. They try talking things out, repressing worries and anxieties, meditation, and a host of other approaches. While some achieve a certain level of success with these stress reducers, there is a simpler and more productive way to combat stress. What’s more, you’ll reap far more head-to-toe benefits with this approach than the others combined.
The stress-busting solution: Engage in as much physical exercise as you can possibly engage in.
One laboratory experiment took ten underexercised rats, and subjected them repeatedly to a variety of stresses: shock, pain, shrill noises, and flashing lights. After a month, every one of them had died through the incessant strain. Another group of rats was given a good deal of exercise until they were in peak physical condition. They were then subjected to the same battery of stresses and strains. After a month, not one had died.
(Disclaimer: As an intense… intense…. intense animal lover, I’m never FOR animal experiments – even on rats. However, I do have to concede that when science is able to gather information that benefits humans, it’s difficult to argue. How extraordinary it would be if one day science found another way.)
Here’s the basic, simple, and profound truth: Our bodies were made to move and the more they are exercised, the more effectively they function. From Adam and Eve to you and me, our bodies were beautifully designed to function and work. We were made to hunt, gather, build, work, run, and then go back and do it all over again. We weren’t intended to sit as much as we do. We weren’t made to find the easiest way to do things, the path of the least resistance, or the shortest distance to take.
We weren’t made to ride buggies around the grocery store because we’re too lazy (or overweight) to walk. We weren’t made to find the closest parking space possible to the front door so we don’t have far to walk. We weren’t made to blow right past the stairs and take the elevator every time.
Many of the problems we have today (physical, mental, and emotional) could be greatly alleviated if we simply got more exercise and increased our activity.
Studies on the ways exercise helps to reduce stress are VERY conclusive.
Benefits of Exercise for the Body and Mind:
- gets rid of harmful chemicals in our bodies
- burns extra calories to help us lose weight or keep from gaining too much weight
- strengthens our muscles
- strengthens our bones
- improves our circulation
- aids in digestion
- strengthens our respiratory system
- strengthens our mind
- provides a form of abreaction (a way we can let off steam)
- builds up stamina
- counteracts the biochemical effects of stress
- reduces the risk of psychological illness
Growth and advancement are almost always wonderful things. In our world of advanced technology, however, we simply aren’t getting enough activity and exercise. Think about it, when’s the last time you engaged in activity long enough (or strenuous enough) to break a sweat? When’s the last time you pushed your body beyond what it’s accustomed to doing?
For every aspect of our bodies, we need to find ways to ADD exercise and activity to our daily routines. Keeping an activity journal is one way to get in touch with how much – or how little – you actually move. Most of us would be surprised at how many hours we actually spend sitting.
Wearing a pedometer is another great way to gauge your movement. Experts tell us we need to aim for at least 10,000 steps daily.
Whether you are trying to cope with stress and anxiety or not, adding more exercise to your life will make you both healthier and happier. Do it for your mind, do it for your heart, do it for your weight, do it for your emotions…. just do it!
Make each moment count double,