In the first of a series of articles on a healthy lifestyle, Steve Pitts, manager of Welsh Back Squash & Health Club looks at exercise as a means of reducing stress.
We all know stress is bad for you but how can you beat it?
In this article we’ll look at how stress negatively affects you and I’ll offer a sure-fire way to combat it. When we talk about stress it’s important to understand that it manifests itself both physically and emotionally and, if left untreated, can lead to serious health problems. Here are just a few common, physical and emotional manifestations of stress, some of which I’m sure you’ve experienced: fatigue, migraine and headaches, muscle tension, high blood pressure, immune system suppression, depression, lack of concentration and irritability. These are just a few examples of the most common negative affects stress can have and there’s no need to exhaust you with them all.
So now we are clear that stress can be potentially very harmful, let’s look at a really simple way to combat the short term effects through exercise! Exactly how exercise helps in stress management is different from person to person. The benefits of exercise can come from many factors: the decision to take up exercise, the symbolic meaning of the activity, the distraction from worries, gaining new skills and mastering a sport, the effects on self-image, and the biochemical and physiological changes that accompany the activity.
Long Term exercise increases your mental and physical fitness, and lessens the negative impact of stress on physical and emotional health. People who exercise regularly show a healthier response to stress than people that don’t. Any kind of exercise can help buffer the effects of stress and lots of options are available, such as walking or jogging, swimming and cycling. In addition to this, group exercise classes offer an exciting environment to help keep you motivated, and exercising with friends can make it more fun. Personally I would always recommend a prescribed exercise plan by a fitness professional to maximise your results. Not only will this help to keep you motivated but it also ensures that your training is right for you.
Short Term exercise increases the body’s Endorphin levels and decreases stress levels. Although this effect generally only lasts for four to six hours, it can be greater than many prescribed drugs. If you suffer from severe stress then regular exercise is one of the best ways to combat the symptoms. It is important to plan when you exercise, for example if you become anxious during the day due to job stress, you may want to exercise first thing in the morning. On the other hand, if you suffer from insomnia, you may want to exercise in the late afternoon (Note: Exercising too late in the day may make it difficult for you to fall asleep).
Look out for more fitness tips next month.
If you’re affected by stress then the Welsh Back Squash & Health Club offer an excellent range of facilities, including squash, classes and a gym with free personalised plans. We also have discounted rates of membership for all Bristol Law Society members. You can download a free day pass from our website ( www.welshback.co.uk ), why not pop down and try us out?