Submitted by Dan Chabert of Runnerclick.com –
Last week as I was waiting for the light to change during my morning run, I exchanged glances with the crossing guard who took one look at me and joked, “you don’t need to run, you’re skinny enough!” I smiled and responded, “it’s for my mind”.
People immediately classify exercise as a weight management tool – which it can be – but it should not be overlooked as a stress management tool, and a very effective one at that!
Why We Need to Move More
According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise has been shown to decrease stress in a number of ways, from increasing self-confidence to bumping the feel-good neurotransmitters, or, endorphins.
“Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.” – Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Here are just a few compelling findings on what exercise does to your body:
● Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
● Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
● Reduce your risk of some cancers
● Strengthen your bones and muscles
● Control/Maintain your weight
● Improve your mental health and mood
● Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult
● Increase your chances of living longer (CDC.gov)
But what’s more interesting than any of these physical changes, are the unexpected changes in other areas of your life. I recently read The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., and finished with a nice array of Post-its jutting out of the top, the first being this finding, she calls “The Willpower Miracle”. McGonigal sites a study for a new treatment to enhance self-control.
How to Move More
I am a firm believer that exercise should not be punishment. If you dread your workouts, you won’t stick with them, and it will drain you emotionally well before it does physically. There are thousands of ways to fit exercise into your life, and often people get paralyzed by obsessing over finding the absolute best workout.
The secret is: There is no best workout! The best workout is the one you’ll actually do!
Especially when it comes to exercise as a stress management tool, I recommend spending your energy finding a way to move that you enjoy, and can do most days a week. Personally, I’ve found a huge mental benefit from walking wherever possible.
Here are a few ways to get a little more movement into your everyday:
● Walk or bike whenever you can for transportation
● Clean more frequently, but for less time (one aspect/room a day vs. everything once a month…or, let’s face it, a year)
● Take the stairs
● Make multiple trips (groceries, laundry, cleaning)
● Pace or stand when on the phone
● Walk to the farthest bathroom in the house/office
● Stand up at the top of each commercial break
● Play with your kids (video games don’t count!)
● Walk at lunch, better yet start a walking group at your office (it’s as simple as asking someone else if they want to join you!)
● Take the dog for a walk instead of letting it out in the yard
● Dance! (alone, with your kids, with friends, etc)
● Walk after work or dinner to catch up with your spouse
Pick 2 things from this list (that you don’t already do!) and commit to do them each day this week.
An entrepreneur and a husband, Dan hails from Copenhagen, Denmark. He loves to join ultramarathon races and travel to popular running destinations together with his wife. During regular days, he manages his websites, Runnerclick, Nicershoes, Monica’s Health Magazine and GearWeAre. Dan has also been featured in several popular running blogs across the world.