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Exercise and stress

From: A Touch Of Medicine,

12
March
2012
Exercise and stress

We've all heard that exercise helps to beat stress - but how? And why?

Let’s have a look at what stress is and what it does to us.

A stress on our body can be considered to be anything that fires us up and makes us ready to respond to immediate danger. We release powerful hormones, namely cortisol and adrenaline, whose job it is to suppress digestion and body maintenance and flood the body with ready-to-use energy. All well and good - after all, who needs to digest lunch when there's something ready to attack!

However, most of the time there is no tiger to run from or intruder to attack and defend our family from. Most of the time, it's just the pile of paperwork on your desk or the bills on the table or problems with your boss, or the coffee you've just had.

So what does this mean?

Chronic stress plays havoc with your body and your health. Simple.

Stress:

  • Sabotages your good intentions of losing weight and body fat, mainly because your body thinks you're living in a jungle with daily dangers around you. It therefore tries to keep lots of fat to use as fast energy - and the best place to store it is round the middle, nice and close to where it gets converted.
  • Ruins your sleep. It screams 'how can you be sleeping when there’s a lion in your room?!'
  • Raises your heart rate to make sure that blood is pumping round, bringing oxygen to muscles while you're running away.....
  • Eventually leaves you exhausted and unable to run away from anything.

The list is long. So what can you do?

Well, that list is also long - but this is about exercise, so we'll stick with that!

Exercise:

  • Is stress's friend. Finally, you are using your body for its intended purpose - moving.
  • Floods the body with a very different type of hormone, endorphin. And we like that! Endorphins make us feel good, make us feel happy and free us of some of that pent up aggression/depression.
  • Relaxes tense muscles (another of adrenaline's tricks) and increases blood flow to the brain, which allows for better productivity and concentration (= happy boss!)
  • Helps you sleep better.
  • Helps you to start letting go of that belly - joy!

There are many, many more ways to describe the effects of stress and the benefits of exercise, but by reading this I hope you get the general idea. I am, however, going to throw a small spanner in the works....

Exercise, as brilliant and as important as it is, is also a stressor on the body! And like anything, it requires balance. Too much will do you no good, as will too little. This is not meant to throw you, but is just a gentle reminder of how important rest is.

Rest days allow the body to catch up on its maintenance and repair. This is extremely important - that’s why it's in bold!

For advice on exercise, consult your GP or speak to a personal trainer to get the most from your training.

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I am owner of A Touch Of Medicine, a business which provides natural alternatives and advice for a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

My career choices have been made entirely based on previous successful treatment of my family and me and the general stubbornness of wanting to find out how and why!

I come from a very personal and passionate position regarding the treatments I do, in particular the invaluable treatment of children through homeopathy and the ‘why did I ever carry on in pain?’ massage treatments.

My idea is to blog about things that make us healthy - not just treatments but reminders of things long forgotten, such as the uplifting power of a walk in the woods or the restorative properties of the art of doing nothing!

I hope you enjoy.

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