Feeling stressed? You’re not alone. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 77% of adults in the United States experience physical symptoms of stress, while 73% experience psychological symptoms. With our busy lifestyles and never-ending to-do lists, it’s no wonder that stress is such a prevalent issue.
While there’s no magic cure for stress, there is a powerful tool that can help: exercise. Countless studies have shown that physical activity can help reduce stress and improve overall mental health.
So how exactly does exercise help with stress reduction? Let’s take a closer look at the science behind it.
Firstly, exercise releases endorphins, which are hormones that can make you feel good and reduce feelings of pain and stress. Endorphins are often referred to as the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals, and they’re released when you engage in activities such as running, cycling, or swimming.
Exercise also helps to reduce the level of stress hormones in your body, such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones are released in response to stress, and they can have a negative impact on both your mental and physical health if they’re not managed properly.
In addition to these physiological effects, exercise can also be a great way to distract yourself from the sources of stress in your life. When you’re focused on a challenging workout or a new exercise routine, you’re less likely to be worrying about work, relationships, or other stressors.
So how much exercise do you need to see the stress-reducing benefits? The good news is that even a little bit of physical activity can help. According to the American Heart Association, adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise.
The type of exercise you do is also important. While any type of physical activity can help with stress reduction, some types of exercise may be more effective than others. Activities such as yoga and tai chi, for example, are often recommended for their stress-reducing benefits.
Of course, it’s important to remember that exercise is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to managing stress. Other strategies, such as mindfulness, deep breathing, and connecting with others, can also be helpful.
So if you’re feeling stressed, why not lace up your sneakers and head outside for a run, or try a yoga class? Not only will you be doing something good for your physical health, but you’ll also be taking an important step towards better mental health and stress reduction.