Stress and Exercise
How’s your stress level these days?
Exercise makes people feel better. Among other things it experientially and physiologically lowers our stress levels.
A peculiar thing about exercise: most of us know it’s good for us. And many of us exercise less than we plan to/would like to/feel we should. We tend to exercise most when motivation is high. And what increases motivation is different for everyone. For the majority, the benefits need to be valuable and meaningful. I’m going to assume you wouldn’t have read this far unless you were interested in reducing your stress to some extent. So, check that box.
For some, understanding why and how… or knowing the benefits are proven is motivating. So, to be brief, exercise creates both acute and long-term physiological adaptations that either counter stress or make the body more resilient to its pervasive effects. Physical activity has been shown to lower sympathetic nervous system activity, increase endorphins, and alter HPA axis activity. There’s recent evidence to also support that exercise supports neurogenesis.
Did you know that the simple act of elevating your heart rate through exercise on a regular basis can make you more tolerant to psychological stress?!
Beyond the physiological effects and adaptations, exercise has also been shown to attenuate stress and anxiety through mechanisms including: improving concentration, enabling distraction, socialization, improved sleep, muscular relaxation, and improving self-esteem.
Okay, 7 quick useful sound bites:
- Everything counts: It doesn’t have to be 60 minutes, and it doesn’t have to be super complicated or tough. Every time you stand up, and walk away from your computer – even for just 90 seconds – you purge stress hormones. 7 - 15 minute brisk walking has been shown to be incredibly effective and, in fact, for some individuals, long, intense workouts are NOT conducive to lowering stress. Especially in the context of a long busy day… where trying to make time for the long gym workout stresses the person out!
- Moving meditation: Whether you prefer to run, walk, practice Yoga or Pilates, steady methodical breathing will increase oxygen flow to the brain, and quieting the mind often allows people to problem solve better. Return to your desk with a new, positive perspective or a solution to a difficult problem.
- Distraction: An activity that is technically or physically really challenging will distract you from the stress. Mountain biking? A new bodyweight strength routine? Any and all of these will do the trick! A moving “break” if you will!
- Pleasure: The simple act of having fun, socializing, connecting alleviates stress. The natural endorphins released during physical activity are jacked up even more for some when they are enjoying themselves. Connect online to one of our amazing Virtual Classes, head outside and PLAY with your kids, friends, partner!
- Sleep: Lack of sleep is a HUGE stressor. People who get more than 150 minutes of physical activity a week tend to sleep longer and better. The tricky part: the what and when is different for different individuals. For the majority 30 to 90 minutes prior to sleep isn’t helpful at all – whereas many find 3 - 6 hours before bed is the perfect time to exercise in order to improve sleep. Some find exercise first thing in the morning does the trick; perhaps as it wakes them and they therefore decrease their caffeine intake throughout the day. Relaxing yoga is better for some, high intensity 30-minute strength workout for others, or a walk, run, or bike ride in the out of doors for others. (PS. Laughter helps too!)
- Relax: Try progressive relaxation, join our Hatha Yoga class, or follow along with the mobility series I posted last week. Stressed bodies hold excessive muscular tension. Learn to allow that tension to dissipate… from your eyebrows… to your shoulders… to your toes… Ahhhh…
- Self Esteem: Sometimes our challenges overwhelm us. For me, there is nothing like powering up a few hill repeats on my bike, finishing a grueling run, or nailing Lauren’s HIIT workout that makes me feel like I can do ANYTHING. I feel strong, powerful, able to wrestle that stress down to the ground.
We hope you found something that might help? Please reach out to myself or my talented and resourceful peers on the Personal Training, Yoga & Pilates Teams, to help you with your specific challenges.
Inspiration of the Day
“Stressed spelled backwards is desserts.” – Loretta LaRoche, stress expert and humourist
(Remember, laughter helps!)
Live Workouts of the Day
Today we’ve got a couple of live workouts on the schedule.
MOBILITY & MUSCLE WITH LAUREN
Today, Lauren’s stepping in to bring you your lunchtime pick-me-up! This workout will focus on the shoulder, hip, and ankle, moving you through a full range of motion. There will be additional stability work for the glutes and core included!
Recommended equipment: a pillow and a chair
Join Lauren at 12:00pm (35 minutes) from your own living room.
Click here to join the workout.
Meeting ID: 892 2779 8538
ON CORE WITH GARTH
Garth’s back with another week of On Core, where you’ll challenge your core and stabilize your trunk in just 30 minutes!
Recommended equipment: light/medium dumbbell or weighted object (water bottle, book, etc.)
Join Garth at 5:30pm (30 minutes) from your own living room.
Click here to join the workout.
Meeting ID: 868 1155 7138
Click here to review this week’s schedule.
If you have any questions about our virtual live workouts, please reach out to Lauren.
Trainer Moves of the Day
I know lots of members that like to slow their workouts down when they’re looking to relax, so I picked today’s Trainer Moves because it will help you do exactly that.
Join Susan Young, Yoga Instructor at the Adelaide Club, for this awesome Leg Stretches Yoga workout.
For questions about today’s Trainer Moves, please reach out to Meg directly.
Superfood of the Day
Coconut oil is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. This true superfood is made from copra or fresh coconut flesh and, in many locations, the coconut tree is considered to be the “tree of life”. Coconut oil’s uses and benefits go beyond what most people realize.
Kyla Markland – Stratus’ Bar Managed & Registered Holisitic Nutritionist – is a huge advocate of coconut oil for reducing inflammation, supporting cognitive and heart health, and boosting energy levels. The list of health benefits of this oil makes it one of the most beneficial fats on the planet.
One tablespoon of coconut oil contains about 120 calories, 14 grams of fat, no fiber, no cholesterol, and only trace amounts of vitamins and minerals. Coconut oil is easy to digest, processed by the liver which means that the oil is immediately converted to energy instead of being stored as fat.
Coconut oil is great for cooking, making your own body scrubs and body lotions and even taking a daily spoonful… the list and benefits of coconut oil are endless. Don’t wait, get this extraordinary fat into your daily diet!
If you have questions about today’s Superfood, you can reach out to Kyla directly.
Do you have a “Something of the Day” you’d like us to share?! Email Meg.