Exercise & Stress Relief

You're Only One Workout Away From A Good Mood

Every week we come into the gym and Heather and I show up and sound like a broken record.  Mike asks us how we are and we say “ok… stressed about work but hopefully it will get better soon”.    EVERY WEEK.  It’s time to face some reality… its not getting better or at least not quickly.  The good news is that I’m always much less stressed when I leave.   I decided to do a little research into the connection between stress and exercise.
First off let’s accept that I am not a doctor, scientist, trainer, or anyone particularly official.  Lets also accept that my research is primarily unverified Google searches.  According to the Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Health letter “It’s clear that exercise is beneficial for mental health. What’s not clear is how it works.” If he can’t explain how it works then its ok if I can’t. 
The first thing I discovered is that there is a stress.org.  That’s sounds like either a really relaxing place to work or a REALLY not relaxing place to work.  They have lots of info on Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation aka electric head therapy… no thanks.   I’ll try the exercise thing first they can shock my brain later.
 I also found that scientists like to stress out rats and force them to run on their wheels. Which is not cool“In animal studies, rats who were allowed to exercise as much as they wanted to on a free running wheel showed less severe and fewer “fight or flight” responses to a painful stressor compared to litter mates in similar cages with a fixed wheel.”   A painful stressor, like what?  Rat divorce?  Rat communications team training?  Thank God I’m not a rat and I found one doctor to agreed with in writing stating “Of course, rats are not people.” Whew!
Heather as a Dead Bug, Not a Rat
Then I found some actual research from the Mayo Clinic.  I trust them, they are Minnesotans and therefore are trustworthy.
Exercise and stress relief
Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits. 
  • It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner's high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.
  • It's meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you'll often find that you've forgotten the day's irritations and concentrated only on your body's movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do.
  • It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All this can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.
What the Mayo clinic says makes sense to me.  The more regularly I exercise the more I feel the effect and the longer the effects seem to last.  When I work out with Mike I feel less stressed the rest of the night.  When I exercise 3 or more times a week I start to see the impact on my stress/mood even on days I don't workout.  I also sleep better which helps with my mood and the stress.  I guess my point it that I need to keep it up with Mike and get in a couple more workouts and hope that it gets better.  ;)
One final note... banging is also good stress relief so banging training should help with banging which in turn will help with stress... take that Mr. Harvard!
Here’s some links to some of the stuff I found.  Also the link to stress.org so you can look into Cranial Electo Hububbaloo