The opportunity to hear good news likely caught your attention, why?
Presently everything you read or watch on T.V. is stress producing. With the troubled economy, the stress level for Americans has increased. Now is the time to evaluate your strategies for managing your concerns and fears in an effective way. It is good news to know that there are options that can help. Although the physical reaction to stress may not go away, you can offset the effects with exercise and healthy living!
Exercise is a natural remedy that helps the body reach homeostasis in a hectic world that is continuously trying to throw us out of balance. Stress related issues are often translated into being “all in the mind”, but prolonged emotional stress can have an adverse physical effect.
When threatened or stressed our bodies produce a chemical response that not only affects our outlook but also has physiological effects. Long-term stress plays a role in damaging the immune system, accelerating aging and chronic disease. Adrenaline (a stress hormone) is produced in the body during stressful times. If it remains in the body, it can produce harmful side affects such as elevated blood pressure, pain and other conditions. When exercising, the body utilizes the excess adrenaline that is produced thereby minimizing damage to the body. In addition, during fitness activities the body also releases helpful natural “feel-good” chemicals called endorphins that give the individual a sense of well-being. Mood elevation is very helpful in offsetting the depression produced by challenging times.
You don’t have to take on the stress alone. During difficult times, people stay closer to home and many individuals become isolated and depressed. Exercising in a health club setting has shown to improve socialization and allow people to feel more like a part of a community. Adhering to an exercise routine gives a sense of accomplishment and sharing this empowers other people to be successful.
More good news……..Exercise gives your mind a break!
Fitness programs provide a “time out” to focus on the activity that you are presently performing and away from daily issues. As you concentrate on proper form or breathing techniques, the mind is unable to wander onto undesirable thoughts. The body becomes energized and creative problem solving may be stimulated. If anger is a concern, the physical release of energy dissipates feelings of frustration in a positive way.
According to CIGNA research (a global health service company) one-third of Americans find that the economy is affecting their health and other studies have shown that as many as 92% of corporate employees are losing sleep. Good news again! Exercised muscles relax better at night and physical fatigue from movement helps improve the sleep cycle. It is evident that individuals hold stress in their bodies in different ways. Wherever the body is weakest, pain, tension or possible injury can occur. Strengthening exercises allow the body to manage physical as well as psychological challenges.
There is even more good news, this time for your finances. Investing in an exercise regime can pay off! Health promoting exercise can help offset the need for expensive medications and/or medical care. It can replace poor coping habits that are costly such as excessive drinking or over-eating.
What kind of exercise is best? For those who are seated all day, consider swimming, walking or a structured fitness class. For individuals on their feet all day, the Nu-step (seated elliptical), cycling or mat Pilates classes are suggestions.
Ready to get started? Most people consult their physician prior to starting to exercise for a stress test. It may be more appropriate to consult your doctor before settling into your lounge chair for a day of “bad news” on the T.V.
Fitness is a necessity not a luxury. You cannot live without your health!
Carol Penfield RN, MS, Nurse Practitioner and owner of Chatham Health & Swim Club.