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Beat Stress With Exercise

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According to a survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), 45% of Americans say that they exercise to help reduce stress. Exercise is one of many healthy behaviors that can help people deal with stress and is part of one of the steps to building resilience, taking care of oneself.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) offers the following reasons that you should turn to exercise to cope with stress and anxiety:

1) Exercise can help you feel less anxious. Exercise is being prescribed in clinical settings to help treat nervous tension. Following a session of exercise, clinicians have measured a decrease in electrical activity of tensed muscles. People have been observed to be less jittery and hyperactive after an exercise session.

2) Exercise can help relax you. One exercise session generates 90 to 120 minutes of relaxation response. Some people call this post-exercise euphoria or the endorphin response. We now know that many neurotransmitters, not just endorphins, are involved. The important thing is not what they're called, but what they do - they improve your mood and leave you feeling more relaxed.

3) Exercise can help make you feel better about yourself. Think about those times when you've been physically active. Haven't you felt better about yourself? Those feelings of accomplishment and greater self-worth contribute to stress relief.

4) Exercise can encourage you to eat better. People who exercise regularly tend to eat more nutritious food, and it's no secret that good nutrition helps your body manage stress better.

Don't skip a chance to exercise. Take an exercise break every 90 minutes and you'll be doing yourself a favor. 90 minutes intervals are a natural work-break period. And four 10-minute exercise breaks at this time will burn about as many calories as a solid 40-minute session. Work-break exercises can be as simple as walking or climbing stairs, stretching or doing calisthenics at your desk.

(extracted from Diet & Exercise Spring 2006)





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