Exercise: The stress buster

This article is adapted with permission from the Shaklee Naturally Blog. Click here to read the original article

Got Stress?

If you’re anything like the majority of us, your morning goes something like this: Your alarm goes off and you jump out of bed, grab a cup of coffee and head for the shower. Before you get out the door, you have kids, dogs, or a spouse to get ready besides yourself. You grab something to eat and head out the door.

And that’s just the morning! 

Our day to day lives are stressful enough, but then there are bills, computer problems, and 24-hour news shows. Cell phones keep us close to our family and friends, but they also keep us close to work and people who need things from us. Add to that, what psychologists call major stressors such as losing a loved one, moving, changing jobs, or other large life event and you have a cocktail for stress and anxiety.

Stress is a way of life in our modern world, whether we like it or not. We can’t get rid of it, but we can manage and reduce it’s effects on our bodies, like weight gain.

Is Stress Making You Fat?

Have you ever noticed that you eat more when you are stressed? It is common when people are first exposed to a stress to lose their appetite, but when stress becomes chronic, their appetite increases. This is one of the ways that scientists have been able to link our weight gain to how stressed out we are, but it goes much deeper than that.

It turns out that being stressed releases chemicals in our bodies that tend to increase our weight. These stress hormones were never meant to be turned on for a long time. The hormones (mostly cortisol) work well when a tiger jumps out at us but when it is running around in our bodies most of the time, due to the many stressors in our lives, it leads to weight gain. If you’ve ever struggled with weight loss, you might be suffering with chronic stress!

Exercise Is The BEST Stress-Busting Tool You Have

Not only are you being active (which tells your body that you are getting away from that tiger), but you are also releasing another set of chemicals that tells you that you are okay and everything is going to be fine.

My favorite exercise is walking.  Why walking? It’s easy, doesn’t require any equipment and gets you moving without injury. Most experts recommend 30-45 minutes 3-5 times a week. 

Here are some benefits of regular exercise:

  • Increased Endorphins: Brain chemicals called endorphins are released when you exercise. These chemicals are responsible for the “runner’s high” some people feel when they run. Endorphins help us feel calm and happy.
  • Meditation: Exercise takes your concentration off of your daily worries and turns that focus to the game you are playing, the mountain you are trying to climb, or the walk you are taking. Like meditation, exercise takes you out of your head and puts the focus on your body and the present.
  • Mood: Regular exercise tends to increase self-confidence and contentment. Research has shown that exercise works for reducing anxiety and improving mood.[i]

Exercise doesn’t have to be anything complicated. Just a simple walk can do wonders to reduce stress.

Reduce The Long-Term Health Impact of Stress

Continuously high levels of cortisol have been linked to long-term health impacts.Along with the suggestion above, many have also found it helpful to start with a good nutritional foundation. Avoiding foods that also contribute to high cortisol levels will help your body recover faster. Foods to avoid are sugar, processed or fast foods, and unhealthy carbohydrates like pasta and white bread.

Since many diets are lacking in proper nutrition, it’s important to start with a great, high-quality daily mutivitamin/multimineral supplement. My favorite is Shaklee Vita-Lea. It’s comes in several sizes to fit any budget. Another great product I recommend to people needing a little extra help with reducing stress is Shaklee Stress Relief Complex. It was designed to help support your body’s response to stress. I find it really useful when I’m having a really stressful day or a panic attack. It calms me quickly and helps me feel so much better.

Check out how I battled chronic stress and what I did about it: My Story

[i] Asmundson GJ, Fetzner MG, Deboer LB, et al. Let’s get physical: a contemporary review of the anxiolytic effects of exercise for anxiety and its disorders. Depress Anxiety. 2013 Apr;30(4):362-73. PMID: 23300122.

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