Exercise and Stress

Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Here, Champneys Fitness and Wellbeing Director Louise Day explains how exercise can boost your feel good factor…

Shed those daily tensions. Move, get active.

You’ll never eliminate stress completely, it’s part of everyday life. But regular exercise will help you manage and reduce levels. It will also help increase self-confidence and can lower some of the symptoms linked to mild depression and anxiety. Stress affects the brain, which in turn will affect the rest of your body. Your body and brain are linked, so if your body feels good, then so will your mind. Physical activity will help to relax your muscles and relive tension in the body. It’s a great way of breaking the cycle of stress.

Propel your endorphins

Endorphins are the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. These chemicals are released when you exercise and encourage a positive feeling within your body. People often talk about a feeling that is known as a “runner’s high”, which is often what follows a run or a strenuous workout. It helps to promote a calmer and clearer outlook on life.

Increase your energy

Exercise can also be a beneficial tool in aiding the increase in energy and fatigue intolerance. Stress can use up a lot of a person’s energy, which will then lead to fatigue. By exercising regularly you will build up your levels of energy as well as your tolerance to stress.

Improve your sleep

Exercise and sleep affect each other; regular exercise is good for aiding a decent night’s sleep, while poor sleep can obviously lead to less exercise. For some, physical activity will improve the quality of sleep. Exercise strengthens and stimulates the heart and lungs, which will increase the amount of oxygen that is available to the brain. This will enhance cognitive function.

Pick an activity that you enjoy

Most forms of exercise or movement can increase your fitness levels while decreasing stress. So the most important thing is to pick an activity that you enjoy. There’s an activity out there for everyone – no matter your age or ability. If you’re someone that doesn’t particularly enjoy sports, then maybe try a dance class. At Champneys, we have so many different activities taking place, including Yoga and Pilates, you’ll be sure to find the one for you. I’d even recommend just getting out and having a walk, the most important thing is to get your heart working that little bit more.

The social element

Sport and exercise helps people connect with one another. Being around other people can help us feel supported and secure. Concerns can be shared among friends, who in turn can remind you that you are able to face your problems. It’s always beneficial to talk things through, and sport and exercise is often a great way of bringing people together.

How often, how long?

We’d say to exercise at least three times a week, for around 20 to 30 minutes each time. You can increase this of course, but for those that are just starting it’s recommended that you ease yourself in.