We all have stress in many forms. Individuals deals with stress in their own way, some better than others. After a prolonged period of stress the negative effects will get to you. Hanna Elliott, personal trainer and body image coach, explains how exercise can reduce the harmful effects of stress in our daily lives.

Elliot describes exercise as having a two-fold effect, “Not only does regular exercise help lower your overall stress levels, but ultimately it improves your quality of life on both a physical and mental level. Physical activity positively affects your mood by relieving tension, anxiety, anger and mild depression, all of which often goes hand-in-hand with stress.”

Stress also impacts on the quality of sleep and can lead to sleep deprivation. Exercise can assist in putting both the mind and body in a state of relaxation which offers better rest.

Endorphins are the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters within the body that give us the all good feeling. Elliot explains that these endorphins and feelings of euphoria is created after a good gym work out session. Being physically active improves the body’s blood flow and the body’s ability to use oxygen. These two factors directly affect the brain which significantly increases endorphins within the body.

Elliot highlights the importance of repetitive movements. ‘Repetitive physical activities can also distract the mind from worry. The motions involved in repeating certain movements helps one focus on the body instead of the mind’.

Elliot further explains that concentrating on the rhythm of movement mimics the experience of being in a meditative state. It produces a sense of energy and optimism and the focus can help provide calmness and clarity.

Over-training can have a negative effect on the body and therefore a negative effect on the mind. Elliot suggests starting off with 20-minute aerobic sessions 3-times a week, and increase gradually.

However, when exercising be sure to be inquisitive and try new thing as exercise should also offer satisfaction.

Exercise does not have to be done in isolation. This can be a family affair, whether making time to take brisk walks on the beach with family, cycling with the kids or training with your partner. Working out with someone else can also add to the stress-busting benefits of the workout. With time being a critical factor in our daily lives, we can double the value by including exercise as a family activity.

Although a personal trainer is not essential, Elliot explains the benefit, ‘A trainer can help develop a safe and effective workout routine while taking your specific situation and fitness level into account’. This also helps keep one on track and creates the importance of ‘showing up’ at exercise sessions. An exercise diary can also be kept to track routines, times and overall health.

Hit the road, gym or park and feel the benefits of exercise. Remember to keep it enjoyable, which will help sustain the routine and give you something to look forward to, rather than resent the time spent exercising. Enjoy!

About the columnist: Krsangi Radhe is a public relations practitioner, teacher, entrepreneur and motivational speaker.
Visit her blog: www.vearth.org.za