Exercise and Stress Reduction Strategies

by Stephanie Wolinsky, Certified Personal Trainer and Pilates Instructor

It can be a tense situation at home, a terrible boss at work, physical pain or illness, lack of sleep, poor nutrition... the list goes on and on. Stress surrounds our lives every day. The exact definition of stress is a state of mental, physical or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.

It’s important to learn how to effectively identify and manage stress in order to remain happy and healthy. While there are a variety of techniques used to help us cope with the day-to-day busyness and demands of life, exercise is perhaps the best remedy. Regular exercise is an excellent evidenced-based way to boost your mood and ward of feelings of anxiety.

Aerobic activity can dramatically reduce “stress hormones” like elevated cortisol levels – the pesky culprit linked to excess belly fat, lowered immunity and increased inflammation. Activities such as walking, jogging, swimming and circuit training are also linked to an in increase in one’s endorphin levels – the “feel good” hormones in the body.

Becoming mindful of your present physical and emotional state can reduce stressful feelings and outcomes. Yoga and Pilates are both mindful practices that engage the mind and body through breath and movements. Stretching, foam rolling and meditation can also relax the body and relieve tension. In addition to these practices promoting a sense of well-being, studies show that the body’s natural sleep rhythms will improve.

Exercise is such an important component in improving our overall health. Moving forward, whenever you feel overwhelmed by a stressful situation, embrace exercise as a natural mood stabilizer!