Exercise is one of the top stress relievers in the world. It may seem counterintuitive; after all, the physiological response of exercise is almost identical to the physiological response of stress. Yet, exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress. For starters, it helps your brain produce endorphins, those neurotransmitters that make you feel good. It’s endorphins that produce the infamous runner’s high. (By the way, it’s not just running that can produce that high, anything that gets you moving can produce the same euphoric feeling. ) Exercise doesn’t just produce endorphins; it can also increase your self-confidence and lower your anxiety.
In addition, repeated movements can cause a sort of Zen feel. In fact, walking is one of the best kinds of meditation that you can do. Whether you’re walking, playing tennis or even swimming, the repetitive motions, and just concentrating on your body, can help you forget your stresses.
When you become stressed over a thousand biochemical reactions begin to happen to prepare the body for fight or flight; however, if your stress is mental, you don’t need to react by fight or flight and the byproducts of the stress response continue to circulate in the body. These can cause physical issues, especially after long periods of high stress, for example, cortisol can harm your thyroid function, lead to blood sugar imbalances, impair your mental ability, cause higher blood pressure, lower your immune response and cause stomach fat, among other things. Exercise also helps you deal with anger and hostility in a more healthy way.
The healthier you are the more you can fight off disease and the better your immune system will be.
Finally, exercise helps you sleep better, which helps you deal with, well, just about everything.