According to the Mayo Clinic, exercising for as little as 15 minutes each day goes a long way toward lowering your stress level. Exercisers report feeling calm after engaging in a physical activity they enjoy. Not only does exercise lower anxiety, but an active lifestyle helps you sleep better and feel more confident as well.
How Exercise Reduces Anxiety and Stress
Doctors and natural health practitioners are just beginning to understand how exercise affects anxiety and stress levels through the release of chemicals called endorphins. Physical activity causes the release of these “feel-good chemicals,” bringing about a sense of well-being and happiness. In addition to reducing stress and anxiety, exercise also helps to ward off the symptoms of depression, overall creating a healthier you.
Benefits of Exercising
Physical activity not only lowers anxiety — exercise helps you increase your physical strength and overall confidence as well. The more you move, the better you feel about yourself. People who engage in physical activity report feeling more in control of their anxiety in social situations. Exercising helps you battle the constant cycle of negative thinking that affects most individuals with anxiety. It is difficult to dwell on worries when you’re engaging in physical activities that you enjoy!
This doesn’t have to mean an hour on the treadmill. Experts agree that you should choose an exercise routine that you like. A great example is swimming. Swimming works your muscles, raises your heart rate and helps you burn up to 270 calories an hour. And some people find that simply being around water is soothing. Other enjoyable and stress-relieving exercises include yoga, dancing, biking, walking, running, hiking, or playing a game, such as basketball or tennis. If you have weight-loss goals, an occasional session with a personal trainer can help keep you motivated and feeling strong. If you’re interested in meeting new people, taking an exercise class or joining a gym can help you to find others who are dedicated to a healthy lifestyle and to gain a sense of connectedness.
It’s also important to note that everyday activities such as gardening and playing with your children or grandchildren count as exercise. These are activities that you may not think of as exercise, yet they effectively burn calories and work your muscles. Even cleaning your house can be great exercise. According to Livestrong.com, mopping the floor for 30 minutes can burn nearly 100 calories!
Prepare For Challenges
The key is to create healthy habits that you will be able to sustain throughout your life. Managing your anxiety with exercise, diet and a general focus on health does not have to mean all-or-nothing thinking. Don’t allow your exercise routine to become another source of stress in your life! Try to stay positive even when you miss a workout. Remind yourself that you can go for a hike or ride your bike tomorrow if you’d like — there’s no sense “punishing” yourself for taking a break. (In fact, resting days are important!) Reward yourself for reaching small goals, such as losing five pounds or sticking to your exercise routine for five days straight. This will help you stay with your plan of using exercise to lower anxiety for the long haul.