The Link Between Exercise, Stress, and Anxiety

Health and wellness are common goals of millions of people across the globe, partially because the focus on what a worthwhile life is has changed.

Not long ago, working hard and earning a great living was considered the key to living a life without regrets. Now it appears that people are starting to realize the importance of personal health and happiness; that to truly live a great life, you need to live long, live healthy, and try to obtain enjoyment from everything that you do.

But there are roadblocks, and some of the most common roadblocks are stress and anxiety. Stress alone has the potential to harm your health and wellness, and anxiety makes it very difficult to focus on the positives in life. Both can be overwhelming, and even in light amounts they run the risk of harming your quality of life.

Solving the Problem with Exercise

There are a lot of different ways to improve your mental health. Therapy is very effective, and removing stressful situations (leaving a bad job, getting out of a bad relationship) can also go a very long way. Yet it’s exercise that may be one of the best – and often forgotten – solutions to general anxiety.  It’s benefits include:

  • Reducing Health Concerns

Perhaps the most obvious benefit is that one of the main cause of anxiety – health – is much less of concern the more you keep your body in shape. Exercise isn’t a surefire solution to health issues, but it certainly reduces them and addresses a lot of the worries that people have about their health on a regular basis.

  • Relaxing Your Body

While a lot of anxiety is mental, there are other aspects of anxiety that are strictly physical. Misplaced energy can cause general anxiety, make it hard to sleep, and make it easier to feel the “fight or flight” system working. But when you exercise regularly and keep yourself active, your body becomes a little too tired to experience the severity of physical anxiety, which should lead to less actual anxiety. Also by improving your ability to get a restful night’s sleep you’ll experience less anxiety the next day.

  • Better Body Image

There’s a truth to the saying that looking good makes you feel good. Or, at the very least, looking your best makes you feel less bad. Exercise is a great way to stay in great shape, which in turn improves your self-image, which ultimately leads to you feeling better. Anxiety is not always caused by things like self-doubt or sadness, but feeling confident about yourself is still a very valuable way to relieve your stress and anxiety.

  • “Good Feeling” Chemicals

Exercise also has a positive effect on your brain. Exercise releases endorphins – chemicals in your brain that make you feel good –  and those endorphins lead to a nice euphoria. Even if you go right back to feeling anxious after the effects of the exercise wears off, that euphoria gives you a helpful break from the stresses of the day and may help take your mind off anything that was giving you pause.

  • Fun Activities

Exercise can also have indirect benefits as well. Not all exercise has to take place at the gym. You can play sports with friends and socialize, so that you’re staying active and improving your social support system. Keeping yourself active with your mind off of your problems, once again, represents a nice break from the things that cause you stress and anxiety and should greatly improve your happiness.

  • Temperature

Another interesting and indirect benefit of exercise is its effect on your body temperature. Exercise increases your body temperature, and for many people that increase in warmth is able to give them a little bit of extra relaxation that improves their calmness over the course of the day.

  • Coping

Finally, some people choose to use exercise as their method of coping with negative emotions. When you’re upset you have the option of going to the gym and using all of that energy on the weights or the treadmill. For many people, strenuous exercise represents a healthy and effective coping strategy and reduces the risk of anxiety disorders…

Conclusion

Your goal in life is to be happy. In order to do that, you need to reduce your stress and anxiety, because those emotions get in the way of contentment. Therapy certainly helps, as does eating healthy and staying away from anxiety fueling situations. But exercise may itself play a very fascinating, very real role in your ability to experience less anxiety on a regular basis.

Exercise is not a cure for anxiety, but it does have a lot of potential to reduce the effects of stress and anxiety and, in turn, give you a better chance of enjoying every single day.

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