Can exercise help reduce the feelings of stress for employees?

Stress and anxiety are feelings that affect everyone in their day to day lives, in some manner. Exercise (which has a multitude of health benefits) can reduce stress both physically and mentally.

Before explaining the why’s’ and how’s’ that link exercise to stress management, let’s consider another scenario.

Too much technology, too many late night emails, staring into bright iPad screens in the dark, and an addiction to social media can lead to serious health implications.
“Being connected” has brought about an all-time high in the feeling of being unconnected, lonely, and anxious.

So how does this relate to exercise? Exercise is fantastic. Movement makes the body a happy one.

Here are some ways that you can use exercise to manage and lower your stress:

The “feel good” hormones:

Challenge yourself to try new forms of exercise. The sharp progress curve seen from acquiring new exercise skills makes you feel great!
Do something you enjoy, not something you dread! Exercise comes in some many shapes and forms. Be sure to find something that stimulates you, and don’t be afraid to hop around different classes and studios.

Exercise is known to release a variety of natural painkillers and reward chemicals in the body such as serotonin and dopamine. The natural ‘high’ felt from these chemicals can create a feeling of euphoria and happiness that is a great way to help manage stress and raise your energy levels.

Reduced caffeine cravings:

The increased alertness resulting from exercise is an excellent natural alternative a strong coffee. Caffeine provides an artificial form of stimulation, whereas the energy you feel from exercise is entirely natural.

Prolonged caffeine consumption increases your resting heart rate, which can create the feeling of stress and anxiety, even leading to sleep problems, which in the long-run will create severe stress and health management problems.

If you want to manage stress with exercise, think of this: It’s far better for your health if the elevated heart rate is a consequence of a morning run rather than that of a Red Bull!

Many people successfully trade caffeine consumption for high energy output exercise. Next time you skip a coffee in favour of a HIIT class, just take a moment to assess if you still have a caffeine craving post workout.

Relaxation

Physical exertion requires you to control your breathing to compensate for an increased heart rate, whereas stress raises your heart and breathing rate in an involuntary fashion.

Knowing that you are in control of your own body is an important first step to overcoming stress and anxiety.

Daily breathing routines can benefit you by providing a feeling of steadiness and relaxation.  Forms of exercises like Tai-Chi and Yoga place an emphasis on centring and controlling your breath.

Taking your Yoga practice to the next step will lead you to meditation, a tried and true form of stress management.

Routine

Stress is often caused through things in your life becoming chaotic or irregular. The regularity of exercise can also be a major helper in stress management.

By taking the time to stick to a routine of fitness you can add regularity into your life, helping you manage stress and feel that everything is ordered and stable.

 

Just remember, if you really need that stress relief, and the endorphin high of a sweat but are short on time then check out the ‘7-minute workout’ (click here) or, try 100 burpees as fast as possible!

We provide in-office fitness classes as well as wellness newsletters (advising employees local places they can sweat!) and a plethora of other in-office wellness services. Contact us today for more information.

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