The New Year is just around the corner, and people everywhere are making resolutions. Two of the most common commitments people make are to take better care of themselves and to find better ways to manage stress. There’s a reason these resolutions are so common.
Currently, about 33% of people report feeling extreme stress, and 77% of people say that stress affects their physical health. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why managing stress and practicing self-care is so important. Fortunately, fitness is a great way to do it.
In this blog, we will explore how fitness and exercise help manage stress and promote positive self-care practices.
How Fitness and Exercise Help Manage Stress
People have come up with various ways to manage stress in the past several years. From supplements to meditation to stress balls, there are dozens of options. One of the most effective, however, is also one of the simplest: exercise.
An extensive body of research has proven that exercise of any form can act as a stress reliever. Whether you are a competitive athlete or just getting back in the gym, exercise is a great way to get serious about stress management.
Here are a few things you should know:
- Exercise Boosts Endorphins. Physical activity increases the brain’s production of feel-good neurotransmitters known as endorphins. Sometimes referred to as a “runner’s high,” aerobic activity is particularly good at creating euphoric, relaxed feelings. Give it a try next time you have a long, stressful day!
- Exercise Reduces Adverse Effects Of Stress. Stress is inevitable. No matter how well we take care of ourselves or how much we exercise, we are still bound to experience some level of stress in our daily lives. Fortunately, exercise has been shown to reduce the negative impact of stress. Regular exercise limits the effects of stress on the heart, digestive, and immune systems. Exercise also releases a series of chemicals that help protect the body from the harmful effects of stress and mitigate the fight-or-flight response that stress produces.
- Exercise Improves Mood. If you’ve struggled with a lack of self-confidence, depression, or anxiety, exercise could be the answer. Research has shown that regular exercise boosts self-confidence, elevates mood, promotes relaxation, and can actually decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Exercise also improves sleep, which is critical for building and maintaining a positive attitude.
How To Incorporate Exercise As Part Of Your Self-Care Routine
Interested in using exercise as a stress management tactic? Here are our top tips for incorporating exercise as part of a healthy self-care routine:
1. Check With Your Doctor
Before you begin any new exercise regimen, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Your doctor can advise you about any health concerns you may experience and recommend ways to help you care for your body.
We also recommend working with a training coach at an Alloy studio that offers a comprehensive Starting Point Session and fitness prescription tailored just for you, your goals, your physical history, and your needs.
2. Build Up Gradually
Once you decide to incorporate exercise into your life, it can be tempting to go all in, all at once. Unfortunately, this is a recipe for burnout and injury.
Currently, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise a week for adults.
While greater amounts of exercise will provide even greater health benefits, it’s important to walk before you can run. With this in mind, start slowly, work with a skilled trainer, and build your activity level gradually.
3. Focus On Functional Fitness
There are so many different ways to exercise. Unfortunately, lots of them prepare you to be a meathead and nothing more.
Here at Alloy, we believe in functional fitness. Our workouts and exercises are designed to help people prepare for the activities of daily life and reaching fitness goals. It could be anything like just playing with the grandkids, enjoying a hike, or even training for a 5k.
Functional fitness focuses on building stability and mobility to enhance your quality of life, build strength, and increase stamina. It’s the best way to protect your health and well-being, combat stress, and enjoy more freedom in your daily life.
4. Find Activities You Love
For exercise to be an integral part of a stress management and self-care routine, it must be fun. With this in mind, we recommend seeking forms of activity that you enjoy.
Whether that’s a dance class, yoga with friends, a scenic bike ride, or a swim at an outdoor pool, having fun while you work out is one of the best ways to reap all the benefits of physical activity.
5. Focus On Nutrition, Too
To work out well, you need to fuel your body well. In addition to helping you have more energy for exercise, nutrition is also a great way to combat stress and enhance your mood.
Studies have shown that consuming healthy foods can stimulate the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin.
For best results, fill your plate with healthy foods like lean protein, fish, eggs, lentils, leafy greens, fruits, nuts, and beans.
If you need help with developing a daily nutrition plan, the team at Alloy will work with you to decide which foods support your body and your goals the best.
Alloy: Your Partner in Self-Care and Stress Management
Daily life can be stressful, and caring for ourselves is difficult (yet critical). Fortunately, exercise and physical activity stand out as some of the best ways to control stress and improve mental health.
A critical part of any self-care routine, physical exercise is a great way to enhance confidence, improve your mood, mitigate the damaging effects of stress, and strengthen the body.
Here at Alloy, we love helping people incorporate exercise into their stress management and self-care routines. If you’re curious about how becoming an Alloy member can help you, find a training studio near you to get your recipe for success.