by Randall BP

Get a Handle on Stress with Physical Fitness

Image for exercise and motivation article Stress is difficult to define. It may come from one or many sources. It may be brief, or last a long time. It may be one thing, or a combination of many things. Work, family life, and even money can make you feel anxious, tired (fatigue), or even depressed.
Stress can cause physical changes as well. You may notice a change in sleep patterns or your appetite. It can cause stomach distress and headaches. Over time it can even contribute to serious health issues like heart disease.
Physical activity is one of the best ways to relieve stress. It is a fast way to set you on the right track to better overall health.

How Physical Fitness Helps You

Exercise is YOU time. It is an opportunity to give your mind a break and help your body relax. Using physical activity to combat stress has been shown to:
  • Boost your mood
  • Boost your self-confidence
  • Relieve anxiety and feelings of depression
  • Improves alertness
  • Gives you a better night's sleep (which will also make you feel even better)
The best thing about physical activity is that you can start at any age, in any condition, and see positive results.

How to Get Started

It's always a good idea to talk with your doctor before starting any exercise program . Getting good advice from the start is the place to start. Once that is done, the best thing is to find something you like doing. Start slowly and build up. You want to create a lifelong habit, not dropout after the first few weeks because of injuries or misery.
Remember, the trick is to reduce stress, not create more, so take your time and have fun! Here are some tips to start the process:
  • Do something fun (alone or with a buddy).
  • Listen to music that gets you pumped up and makes you feel good.
  • Don't give up if you miss a few days. Accept it, move on, and get back out there. It will eventually become a habit.
Remember that exercise does not have to be structured. Any physical activity like dancing to music, a stroll at lunch, or playing with your kids can make you feel better. Moderate exercise for as little as 5 minutes can better your mood.

Sticking With It

Now you're moving. How can you keep the momentum going? Daily life gets in the way of exercise. Time is always hard to come by, so find opportunities where you can. Here are some tips for sneaking in some extra exercise time:
  • Keep walking or running shoes in the car or office. You may find time in the middle of the day to take a quick walk or run.
  • Use the stairs. If you can avoid the elevator, do so. The extra steps always help and you will get better at them.
  • Park farther away. When you have to park your car, do it farther from your destination and try to walk the distance.
  • Involve your family. Start a challenge and see what happens. If you exercise together, conversation is easier.
  • Walk away from stressful situations. At work or at home, stand up on a regular basis and walk around. It clears your mind and may help you solve that pesky problem.
Physical activity is often thought of as something you'll get to when you "have time". Instead, think of it as something you want to do. Find activties you enjoy. You may soon find that physical activity is a regular treat in your hectic day.

RESOURCES

American College of Sports Medicine http://www.acsm.org/

American Council on Exercise http://www.acefitness.org/

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Psychological Association http://www.cpa.ca/

Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology http://www.csep.ca

References

Stress tip sheet. American Psychological Association website. Available at: http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2007/10/stress-tips.aspx . Accessed November 8, 2012.

Exercise: How to Get Started. American Academy of Family Physicians. Family Doctor.org website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/healthy/physical/basics/015.html . Updated December 2009. Accessed November 8, 2012.

Exercise Important in Shrinking Your Stress. American College of Sports Medicine website. http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/acsm-in-the-news/2011/08/01/exercise-important-in-shrinking-your-stress . Accessed November 8, 2012.

Mind/Body Health: Stress. American Psychological Association website. Available at: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress.aspx . Accessed November 8, 2012.

Stress: How to Cope Better with Life's Challenges. American Academy of Family Physicians. Family Doctor.org website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/emotional-wellbeing/mental-health/stress-how-to-cope-better-with-lifes-challenges.html . Accessed November 8, 2012.

Revision Information

Health Library Search

Only show results from the selected categories.











The sudden loss of a loved one can be one of the most painful and difficult things to go through. But, the experts say, there is no one correct way to grieve....

From doing daily chores to dispensing essential medicines, caregivers enable family members to continue to live in relative independence, but their involvement carries a ...

Your phone is ringing, your email inbox is overflowing, and you’re five minutes late for a big meeting. To make matters worse, you skipped breakfast this morning because ...

When you are stressed, do you turn to alcohol to take the edge off? But people who drink to relieve their stress may wind up increasing it instead....

The holidays are a time of parties, shopping, entertaining, religious observations, expectations, crowds, clutter, family gatherings, decorating, roller coaster emotions ...

7 Increase Your Social Support therapeutic center

Amy Scholten, MPH has taught stress management in corporate, educational, government, and healthcare settings....

10 How stressed are you? therapeutic center

Studies show that walking can reduce your risk of heart disease. But you need to stop the stress in your mind if you really want to feel good....

12 Feathering Your Empty Nest lifestyle - women's health

Going from busy family to empty nest is difficult for both parents and teens. Here are some suggestions for easing the transition—and some surprising side benefits…...

13 Sex and Disabilities Not Mutually Exclusive lifestyle - sexuality & health

For many couples, sex can be as good after a disabling injury....

14 Surviving Family Vacations lifestyle - kids' & teens' health

Family vacations may be the source of warm, lasting memories—but they do run the risk of turning into an emotional disaster. With some planning, it's easy to avoid many ...

Rooting for your favorite team is fun, but how does it affect your health?...

16 Excess Noise: Bad for Your Mind and Body lifestyle - mental health

Noise from neighbors or coworkers may annoy you, but did you know it can affect your mental and physical health? Here's what you can do about it....

17 Overcoming Fear of Intimacy lifestyle - mental health

Could things your parents taught you as a child be hindering the intimacy of your current relationship? Here's how to overcome those beliefs and get closer to your mate....

18 Take a Break From Technostress lifestyle - mental health

Are you able to ignore an incoming fax or new email message for more than five minutes? If not, you need to read on....

Holding it all in when you are suffering emotionally can lead to depression, anxiety, and other health problems. How can letting it all out help?...

For the sake of your sanity, you have to make your friend stop being so difficult. How do you do it?...