The idea of trying to head over to a gym, wake up an hour earlier, or do anything after work other than sit on the couch and watch television can be a source of stress. Well maybe it is, but maybe regular exercise also changes the physiological response to stress and reduces the impact of stress on your health.
Exercise and Stress
An article in Medical News Today describes a study that shows people who perceive high levels of stress have different physiological responses depending on how much they exercise. The referenced study showed significant differences in measurable cholesterol, blood pressure, and body mass index (BMI) between people who exercised regularly and those who didn’t.
So it seems that physical activity counteracts mental stress. One thing is that this reestablishes that stress is not just in your head – you should not compare what stresses you to what stresses other people, and you should know that stress is associated with negative physical health outcomes.
The other thing this study shows is that regular exercise confers protection from the harms associated with long-term elevated stress levels. We already knew that people who exercise are less likely to be stressed, and there was certainly a correlation between the health of a person and exercise, but this study goes further by indicating a direct link, in that exercise negates the harmful effects of stress on your body.
Steps to Reduce Stress
The Better Health Channel has a list of things to do to prevent stress. At the very top of the list is to exercise regularly. The list below is The Better Health Channel’s prevention list along with their explanation of how to achieve it.
Exercise regularly – regular exercise is a great way to manage stress. You should do some form of exercise that causes you to feel puffed afterwards – a leisurely stroll to the bus stop is not enough! Have at least 20 minutes of exercise three times a week
Avoid conflict – avoid situations that make you feel stressed such as unnecessary arguments and conflict (although ignoring a problem is not always the best way to reduce stress). Assertiveness is fine but becoming distressed is not
Relax – give yourself some time to relax each day and try to spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself
Eat well – a nutritious diet is important. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and avoid sweet and fatty foods
Sleep – a good sleep routine is essential. If you have difficulty falling asleep, do something calm and relaxing before you go to bed like listening to music or reading
Enjoy your life – it’s important to make time to have some fun and to get a balance in your life.
Can HSG help?
It is hard to find time to exercise and often when we feel stressed, we are less likely to work out. With corporate fitness classes, your employees will add exercise into their workday and you will likely see increased productivity and fewer sick days. Wellness-boosting activities like meditation classes, stress reduction workshops, nutrition workshops, healthy cooking demonstrations, sleep well workshops, and corporate culture/leadership development training are valuable tools to decrease stress for your employees, as is making changes to your office environment. Don’t forget to add some fun into your day, maybe with a team building activity like laughter yoga right in your office.
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