Reduce Stress with Exercise
By Charles Hopkins
Published 04/21/2006 | Fitness
We have heard it so many times before that there are many benefits to exercise especially when used to lower stress. If everyone knows that exercise is important then why is stress, disease, and fatigue so prevalent in today's society? The answer is simple. We know what to do we just aren't doing it.
Experts agree that one best way to manage stress is through exercise. Exercise has been proven to relax the body and mind, burn fat, improve cardiovascular system, bring in more oxygen, reduce the chance of diseases, lower blood pressure and the list goes on.
During the stress response, many chemical reactions occur in the body preparing it to what is known as the fight or flight response. During prehistoric days as cave dwellers, we had the opportunity to burn off our stress when an animal attacked, as it was a means of survival. We were able to run away or fight the threat immediately. In today's society, we do not have to fight a bear or tiger, so we do not have much of an outlet readily at hand to burn off the stress or pent up negative emotions. Therefore, we carry it with us creating emotional and physical problems. Exercise can help by providing an outlet for negative emotions such as worry, irritability, depression, hostility, anger, frustration, and anxiety. You can dissipate these feelings by simply taking it out on the tennis court, by running, or punching a bag. Regular exercise provides the opportunity to manage the fight or flight response and helps the body to return to a homeostasis or balanced state more quickly.
Exercise can also improve self-esteem and self worth by realizing that you are benefit directly. You may feel more outgoing and social because of the increased energy and also a better physique creating more confidence and positive self image. Your self-esteem may be enhanced by taking on exercise challenges or goals, giving you a feeling of accomplishment and reward.
Anaerobic vs. Aerobic Exercise:
Aerobic exercise is an activity that uses major muscle groups such as walking, running, swimming, and cycling. This type of exercise strengthens your cardiovascular system by increasing your heart and respiratory rate and brings in more oxygen into the body. To reap the full benefits of aerobic exercise, you must be at 60%-80% of your target heart rate for at least 20 minutes, between three and five times a week.
To calculate your target heart rate use the following formula:
Take 220 - (subtract) your age X (multiply 60%, or 70%, etc. intensity rate.) = Target heart rate (divide by six for a ten second pulse count. Take your pulse for ten seconds and gage where you are during the workout. Speed up the pace if you are below 60%.
Aerobic exercise is key to lose weight as it burns calories which are the energy consumed and adds fat to our bodies. Combined with a healthy diet it is a sure way to lose weight. One pound of body fat is equivalent to 3500 calories. To lose one pound, you must burn 3500 calories. It is easier to combine aerobics and create a small caloric deficit in your diet than to do one or the other solely.
Anaerobic exercise builds muscle strength and power. Isotonics and Isometrics are two kinds of anaerobic exercises.
Isotonics uses your muscles to contract against an object with movement such as weight lifting (also called strength or resistance training.) The benefits of isotonic exercises are stronger muscles, stronger bones, tone, prevent injuries, and condenses and shapes muscle for better esthetics.
Isometric exercise is contracting your muscles against resistance without movement. Such as lifting an object like a dumbbell and holding a position. You are isolating that muscle.
Use both types of anaerobic exercises to maximize your strength to build healthy, lean, and strong muscles.
Select exercises that you enjoy and can do for at least 20 minutes, three to five days a week. Exercise does not necessarily mean hitting the gym and making an ordeal out of it. It can simply be a walk around your neighborhood or dancing to some tunes. Try to think "activity" verses "exercise". When you are in an active mind-frame, you will purposely park a little farther, do stretches at the computer, take the stairs instead of the elevator, etc.
Commit that you will begin to be more active and stick to your exercises or activities for 21 days. Why 21? Research has showed that it takes about 21 days to create a habit. Document how your feel after the 21 days. Your stress levels should be lowered, you should feel more energized, and see some physical changes such as a slimmer physique.
You may already know the benefits of exercise but are you doing it? So start by making a decision, begin slowly, then gradually work up to more and longer workout sessions. The point of this article is to help you take immediate action.
In the words of Nike...well, you know.
To your health.