EXERCISING FOR STRESS MANAGEMENTIt is likely that you are already aware of the mind-body connection when it comes to stress. Simply stated, mental health may have an impact on physical health just as physical health may have an impact on mental health. Stress is noted as the hidden cause of many health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, headaches, back pain, digestive disorders, anxiety, and depression. Some scientists suggest that stress-related health problems are the underlying reason for as many as 70% of visits to heath care professionals (Slothower, Laurie. 2004. Exercise and Stress, Journeyworks Publishing). Thus, seeking to reduce stress through optimizing mental and physical health is a fundamental concept among wellness programs everywhere.
Whether it stems from mental or physical sources, stress produces chemicals in your body that cause you to feel tense and on-edge. Physiologically, your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure rise and muscles become tight. Exercise tends to reduce stress-related chemicals in your system, reduces muscle tension, and may direct your attention away from problems and worries for a while.
Before beginning any type of health improvement program, you should consult a medical professional for a thorough evaluation in order to avoid potential problems or injuries. When deciding on a type of activity or exercise to reduce your stress, you should consider your preferences, personality, and lifestyle. Choose activities you think you will enjoy. The following suggestions may be useful for helping you to get started on the path to having more stress-free days!
AEROBIC EXERCISE CAN BE USED TO HELP YOU TO FEEL ENERGIZED AND TO RELIEVE STRESS
Aerobic Exercise is typically the best type of exercise to reduce stress among individuals who are less active and spend majority of their time in quiet. Aerobics involve activities that raise the heart rate for a period of time. Examples of aerobic exercises include brisk walking, jogging, swimming, bike-riding, skating, etc. Regardless of your preferred activity, you may get the stress-reducing benefits of aerobic exercising if you work out hard enough to slightly raise heart and perspiration rates, but not so hard that you can not speak or hold a conversation while exercising.
CALMING EXERCISE CAN BE USED TO HELP YOU TO FEEL RELAXED AND TO RELIEVE STRESS
Calming Exercise is typically the best type of exercise to reduce stress among individuals who are more active and on-the-go. Calming exercises involve activities that reduce heart rate, breathing rate, and muscle tension. Examples of calming exercises include stretching, strolling or walking, meditation or relaxation classes, yoga, pilates, tai chi, etc. No matter your preference, you may get the stress-reducing benefits of calming exercise by incorporating one or more of these activities into your daily routine.
The University Counseling Center provides individual, couple, group, and family counseling free of charge for actively enrolled students. Counseling Center hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 4:30pm. Appointments are obtained by calling 448-4080, or by visiting the office which is located at 224 Elkins Hall.