People transform into a whole new person when they start exercising. They become an improved and happier version of themselves. And that’s because everyone agrees on this subject. Working out develops your body and your mind — more the mind than the body for some. What’s more, it can relax you and help you if you have any stress or anxiety issues. The relaxing effect of physical exercise can last for hours. This effect derives from the chemical activity that training triggers. Also, inactive people might feel reinvigorated and, therefore happy, after only taking a walk. This is mainly due to the feeling of starting to take control of their lives. Take note of these 5 ways in which exercising works as a stress reliever.
1. Exercising releases happy chemicals in your brain
People feel happy after exercising due to the release of endorphins. These endorphins are chemicals in your brain that act in several ways. First, they make you feel less pain. Your pain receptors perceive less pain after any activity that demands a considerable amount of physical effort. Also, endorphins give you a sense of happiness. When you exercise, your body releases a couple of hormones called dopamine and serotonin. You might have heard of dopamine already. It’s the hormone that human beings release when they feel pleasure. Meanwhile, people know serotonin literally as the “happy hormone.” When people make it a habit to go running, lifting weights, or playing a sport, they increase the serotonin levels in their brains. As a result, they are frequently in a good mood. And no wonder why. These are some of the effects of Serotonin:
- Gives you a sense of well-being
- Combats depression
- Makes you hungrier
- Allows you to fall asleep faster
Finally, exercising works as a stress reliever because these happy chemicals reduce pain and inflammation too.
2. Reduces your levels of stress hormones
The increase of endorphins is just the first part of the job exercising does as a stress reliever. Physical activities also reduce unwanted hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol and adrenaline are known as stress hormones. And we can reduce their levels on our bodies through exercise. Cortisol works to make you aware of potential dangers. We all need cortisol in our blood to handle stress better. In fact, stress is not always considered something adverse. According to experts, humans can feel positive stress — also known as eustress. Eustress means good stress and is a nervous response to an event with positive implications. It keeps us motivated and enhances our performance. You can differentiate between eustress and negative stress by calling the latter “distress.” Cortisol causes us distress. However, as exercise releases endorphins, our body determines we no longer need high cortisol levels in our bloodstream. As a consequence, we feel more relaxed overall after making exercise a habit.
3. Improves your sleep
A good night of sleep is directly correlated to lower stress levels. It’s a cycle you can make work in your favor. You exercise, you reduce stress, you rest better at night. The more nights you achieve good sleep, the easier it is to keep stress levels low. When we sleep, and most importantly when we achieve REM sleep, all our body functions reset and work correctly. Exercising allows us to:
- Fall asleep faster
- Achieve REM sleep more easily
- Sleep without waking up in the middle of the night
For men, as they produce higher amounts of testosterone, it can be difficult to sleep sometimes without a high-intensity workout.
Sleeping also improves your productivity and creativity. Resting well at night enhances your brain and mental health, which is why many writers make exercise a part of their routines. However, you don’t need to become an elite athlete to sleep soundly every night. Daily 30-minute walks will do the trick for you.
4. Skyrockets your self-esteem
Many people stress out due to their appearance. And a single exercise session can make you feel more confident. As your workouts start to compound, you feel more energy and see yourself more handsome in the mirror. Consequently, the stress or worry you could have about your appearance in the past is now gone. High self-esteem also means better mental health. People with high self-esteem are happier, make better decisions, and feel healthier overall. Also, daily workouts or walks make you more disciplined, which contributes to your capacity to manage stressful situations.
5. It’s a necessary escape from reality
Human beings are not designed to work non-stop all day long. Several studies confirm that taking breaks makes us more productive. Likewise, you need a break — or two — from life every day. You need a moment when it’s impossible to think about your worries. You can try meditation, reading a book, or talking to someone you care about. However, moving your body is just as important for your health. When people don’t include physical activity in their routines, they develop the following symptoms:
- Compound stress
- Low energy
- Weaker body and immune system
- Dangerous diseases in the long-term
Exercising sometimes becomes an extension of our personality.
Some people struggle for years getting used to running every morning. Meanwhile, lifting weights was easy and fun to do. Additionally, people often exercise and interact with other individuals. It could be at the gym or a park.
Anyway, exercising becomes a way to satisfy our need for social approval. One of the most powerful forces in our life. It is a life force as necessary as living in comfortable conditions or enjoyment of life. As we satisfy our most primal needs, we have fewer things to worry about. Exercising also helps people distract them from technology. Although smartphones and social media platforms are fun, sometimes they are a dangerous source of stress. Checking up if we have new messages every five minutes is a clear indicator of anxiety.
Nevertheless, people who exercise regularly learn to use their phones only when it’s convenient. That way, they prevent going through the uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety