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Ahh, stress…we all know it so well. Sometimes it sneaks up on us and rests between our shoulders or creeps up in the form of a headache in our brow. So often we let the occurrences in our everyday lives fester to the point of pressure and at times it’s hard to release it. I’ve truly come to find that my best form of stress-relief is working out. No matter what pressure is going on in my life, I know that when I strength train or run, all that stress slowly fades away. In fact, the more stress on my plate seems to fuel a better workout. I began to ask myself, why does exercising lessen the stress on my plate and how does it work? Let’s take a look…

When your body is stressed, all the physiological systems in your body (think cardiovascular, muscular, etc.) need to work together to help fight off that stress. It goes the same for when your body exercises. All your systems are working together, interacting in a healthy way to give you the strength and energy for your workout. The more your body exercises and interacts together, the easier it is for your body to work together to fight stress when it’s compounded with it.

Studies have also shown that stress attacks the brain, specifically the part that is responsible for memory. This helps to explain why at your most stressful moments you can’t think properly. By raising your heart rate, you can actually reverse the damage that stress has done to your brain. (Matthew Stults-Kolehmainen, Ph.D., kinesiologist at the Yale Stress Center) Exercise also releases neurohormones that help you to learn and improve your mood. So essentially, exercising makes you smart!

When it comes to stress, nothing helps exacerbates it more than lack of sleep. By exercising on a regular basis, your sleep patterns become much healthier and thus, your stress levels can decrease as well. Making sure your sleep patterns are as regular as your workouts go hand in hand and work together to lower anxiety and stress.

One of the best ways exercising reduces stress is by working out with a team of people. Socializing and a good laugh help your mood elevation. Not to mention that a lot of the friends you make through your workouts are people that are on the same mission as yourself. Discussing issues and problems that are causing you anxiety is a great release.

Weekly workouts simply help to keep your mind and body in check. Keeping yourself active and in motion is not only good for your body, but also good for your mind as well. In a world where we face stress and anxiety on a daily basis, exercising is a great way to help keep us happy and healthy. I’m not saying that if you exercise every day you won’t feel stress, but rather, if you start to keep a regular schedule of workouts you will begin to see all the positive ways it impacts your life. Here’s to #notstressing!