By Linda Folken, MS, RDN, CSOWN, CDN
The short answer is yes! Research has shown that exercise increases a person’s overall health and feeling of well-being. This moves a person from the tensions of daily life into a more positive and centered state to take on whatever the day brings their way.
If you decide exercise may be a good source of stress relief for you, there are a few more things that are important know.
What are some of the direct stress-busting benefits of exercise?
-Increases the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins
-Reduces the negative effects of stress such as lowering blood pressure and increasing your “good” HDL cholesterol
-It’s a form of mindfulness and meditation in motion. It often helps you to forget about the day’s irritations and gets you concentrating only on your body’s movements
-Helps to elevate your mood and promotes calmness
-Improves your overall quality of sleep
What are the recommended guidelines to put exercise and stress relief to work for you?
First, consult with your physician before starting an exercise program if you haven’t exercised for some time and have health concerns.
For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends aiming for 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week, or a combination of both.
It’s also recommended to aim for strength training at least two times per week.
How to make an exercise routine stick:
– Pick an exercise, sport, or class that you love.
– Find a friend to buddy up with for accountability.
– Exercise in short bouts. If you can’t walk for 30 minutes at one time, try a few five-minutes walks instead.
Whatever you do, think of exercise as part of your self-care routine and not as one more thing on your to-do list. Find the activity that you enjoy. Any type of physical activity can help you unwind and become an important part of your approach toward easing your stress and improving your health.
Linda Folken, MS, RDN, CSOWN, CDN has been a registered dietitian nutritionist for more than 30 years. She specializes in bariatric and medical weight management nutrition.