Exercise, or body movement, reduces stress? Yes, it does. Let’s use the alternate term for exercise, “body movement” to help soften the commanding intonation of the word, “exercise”, we often hear as our advice for life’s ills. So body movement reduces stress, just as exercise does. Body movement increases the body’s feel good neurotransmitters, endorphins. Also, it definitely helps distract us from our many thoughts of worries. When you are focused on body movement, your mind is shifted.
Exercise can seem intimidating, but if we look at it a different way, we can encourage ourselves more. There are many things we do every day in which we move our bodies a lot, and these are considered moderate activity with body movement. When we go up and down the stairs several times a day, carry heavy loads of laundry to and from various rooms, use our arms to fold and put away laundry, cook a meal, do the dishes, lift children, mow the lawn, lift and bend at work, maintain our house, care for pets, walk at work for several hours, or stand for long hours at work, we are doing a lot of body movement. Give yourself credit for these activities.
Have you ever noticed when you are busy with a physical activity like dishes, laundry, walking outside or car maintenance, you go into a kind of zone where your worries work themselves out? Your thinking gets less urgent, and you can solve problems easier, or decide to let them go if needed. Somehow you end up feeling better. This benefit of body movement relaxes us.
On the other hand, many of us these days are, for hours at a time, not moving our bodies much at all. We work at jobs which keep our eyes and our posture fixated in similar positions at the computers much of our waking hours. Often we spend hours in our cars sitting in traffic or traveling, not moving our bodily positions much.
Then there are our hand held computers entertaining us as we sit, or lie, in the same position for long periods of time. Also, in colder weather, it’s tempting to just stay still under some blankets with a warm drink, not moving. It’s beneficial to notice when we do not move our bodies much, and try to make changes where we can.
Balance is key, and looking at body movement as a normal need for our health and reduced stress can help us achieve this.
To simplify, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends these exercise guidelines: For aerobic activity- 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
Moderate activity is generally described as moving enough to get your heart rate up and break a sweat. As for those who spend hours in the same position at a desk or computer, it’s recommended to get up every hour and walk and move around, focusing on something else.
Try to go for a walk at lunch, perhaps. There are lots of exercises to do, even sitting at a desk; directions are easily found by searching the web.
Take a look at what you do every day, how much you move or don’t move your body, and take these things into consideration to improve your overall feeling of well-being and lowered stress. It is pretty simple, but can easily be forgotten when we are bogged down with so many thoughts. Our bodies carry our brain, so it’s best we take care of the vehicle we reside in with a balance of regular body movement.