Why Exercise Helps Stress

Fight or Flight; it’s built into our bodies. Its instinctual, and unless you are really self aware its impossible to control it.

Your mind perceives a threat and it sends messages down your sympathetic nervous system to get ready for a massive physical exertion. Your body floods with adrenaline, your heart rate and breathing accelerate, and you get ready to run or do combat!

Once you’re done, your parasympathetic nervous system lets your body know you are done, and you begin to come down off your combat high.

…but what if you don’t actually fight or flee?

Your body perceives things other than physical danger as threats. In these challenging days when we are all under tremendous psychological threat, your mind sends the “fight or flight” response and there is no corresponding physical release; you STAY hyped…..

……which is why exercise is so essential for stress relief.

Physical activity mimics the fight or flight response, and also releases endorphins (feel good hormone) into your system. Exercise generally requires concentration so also provides a distraction, much like meditation.

The stressful times we live in are taking a toll on our mental health, and physical distancing often has us staying home and sitting down, so staying active is more critical than ever. The Mayo Clinic suggests 150 min of moderate or 75 min of vigorous activity a week, which can be any sort of aerobic activity, so do something you enjoy. Start slow if you’re just getting started, and perhaps consult a physician before hand. An injury will make things exponentially worse.