According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 7 out of 10 adults experience stress and anxiety on a daily basis which has at least a moderate effect on their lives.
Though stress is a natural part of our lives and there’s no way to completely get rid of it, without properly managing stress over a period of time, it can have serious health effects.
While there is no stress "cure," studies have shown exercise to be one of the best stress management tools, helping to decrease both short- and long-term risks.
Stress is a common response system based on the relationship between the individual and environmental demands that are perceived as threatening. Some common sources of stress include work, relationships, and physical conditions.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health everyone experiences stress differently. Short-term symptoms may include digestive issues, headaches, sleeplessness, depressed mood, and anger or irritability.
If not managed over an extended period of time, chronic stress can lead to some serious long-term health problems – higher risk for heart disease, stroke, cancers, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, decreased cognitive function and lowered immune response.
Effects of Exercise on Stress
Substantial amounts of scientific evidence show that exercise is beneficial for managing and treating stress, anxiety, and depression.
Regular exercise, over time, improves the body’s stress response system by counteracting the effects of stressors through the release of endorphins which act as natural painkillers and help to improve sleep.
Exercise can also help to improve mood and self-esteem through improved cognitive function, helping you to feel more confident in taking on stressful tasks.
Utilizing Exercise to Manage Stress
There really is no “best type” of exercise to manage stress; any amount of exercise can be beneficial – just 5 minutes of aerobic activity can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
A great way to start a physical activity program to help manage stress is to do the recommended 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week.
By choosing an exercise that is enjoyable, exercise routines can become a time to take your mind off of daily stressors and focus on other productive tasks further improving your mood.
What is your favorite exercise to manage stress or anxiety? Let us know in the comments below.