Stress is a natural byproduct of the competing forces in our lives. It
helps us focus on our priorities. It creates a sense of urgency.
Often, it brings out the best in us. But, how does a normal level of
stress become a debilitating, even potentially life-threatening, condition of
distress? The answer is different for each person. For many, it
happens in the workplace. Unavoidable conflicts and pressing deadlines are
especially difficult for those people who are overly competitive, perfectionists
or impatient. For others, having a low self-concept, thinking negatively,
or holding on to unrealistic expectations can lead to a cycle of
self-fulfilling, stress-inducing disappointments. Many of us tend to
manufacture a great deal more stress than we can handle. It becomes a
burden that we carry throughout our personal and professional lives until
finally, as medical research clearly shows, it begins to break us down
physically. However, there are ways to reduce some of the stress in your
It is literally and physically possible to walk,
jog or run right into a
happier, less stressful lifestyle. The first step is an exercise program.
Research has consistently shown that exercise and physical activities are the
most effective ways to deal with stress physiologically. In other words,
that old bromide about needing to "run off steam" isn't far from wrong. In
fact, exercise has proven to help open arteries, reduce blood pressure and heart
rate, and bring into balance your overall state of body and mind. Besides
just making you look and feel better, regular exercise gives you a period of
time to re-evaluate and readjust. It literally strengthens your self-image
and sense of control at the same time it is trimming the fat from your body.
The best way to "ease your mind" is by exercising your body.
exercise, or cardiovascular endurance training, is a workout tailored for the
heart, the lungs and your brain, too. Controlled studies have shown that
even a basic program of aerobic exercise, 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week, can
produce significant improvement in a person's psychological function and
outlook. Exercising subjects showed less overall fatigue, greatly
decreased levels of anxiety and depression, and consequently, a much stronger
sense of well being.
If it is true that feeling better about yourself begins with taking a good
hard looking the mirror, strength training will help you like what you see.
It lifts and tones the muscles, helping to create a leaner, more sculpted
physical appearance. And, in terms of your psychological well-being, it
also provides greater levels of stamina and endurance. But, the
specialized objectives of strength training require appropriate equipment.
And it is important for you to select a program that is both effective and safe.
For this reason, you should consider looking into equipment using isokinetic
resistance as it automatically adjusts the amount of resistance to meet your
ability level. Above all, you should consult with your physician before
beginning any exercise program.
Aerobic exercise can:
Strength training can:
- Take exercise breaks throughout the day to help fortify the brain,
alleviate anxiety and depression while elevating your mood.
- Choose an enjoyable form of exercise with pleasant surroundings. For
example, exercise in a room with a stereo, television or a big picture window.
- Exercise consistently: 3-5 times a week for 20-30 minutes each time, at a
sufficient intensity to strengthen the heart as well as the brain.
Research has shown that a fairly high intensity level is necessary to reach
Source: The National Exercise for Life Institute (NEFLI), 2002