A good friend of mine, Gyles Abbott, gives a really interesting viewpoint of a different way of dealing with stress here. Like me, Gyles has had a complete change of career and as personal trainer, describes how running can deal with stress. Enjoy.
I run five days a week, I may not be training for anything in particular, I just see it as an essential part of my day. I can leave the house with ten problems and arrive home with ten solutions or I may have discounted those ‘problems’ as not particularly important. For many years, experiencing everyday work stresses and other pressures I just accepted that Running would be the ‘thing’ that would make everything alright, I would regain my equilibrium…..why is that!?
We are born to move not sit around all day. We need to move to keep our Hearts healthy and ensure Oxygen is flowing around our system. But exercise has another impact on the way we feel, it depletes stress hormones and releases a mood-enhancing chemicals known as endorphins – the ‘Happy Hormone’. Endorphin release can lead to a number of changes in the body from a feeling of euphoria through to modulation of appetite.
Stress can be related to every chronic disease from Heart disease through to depression, it also effects Addictive Behaviour or unhealthy habits as it disrupts the part of your brain that effects self-control, it effects your body as well as your head. If an individual suffers from stress they will experience an increase in the production of the hormone known as cortisol, this effects an individuals Fight or Flight response. The problem is that much of todays stress don’t require either physical fighting or running, but your body still provides the chemicals for it. The best and most logical way to clear chemicals is to exercise. Cortisol levels can remain elevated for days, this appears to encourage the body to store additional abdominal fat.
Individuals that are stressed out in the day tend not to sleep well at night, this can become a cycle – Exercise can break that cycle and turn it into a positive cycle.
Unlike other shortcuts to happiness exercise doesn’t come with a comedown. A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise identified increased levels of tryptophan in runners which is generally associated with increased levels of the mood-elevating neurotransmitter serotonin. In short, exercise helps lower patients scores on the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale. Lab studies have also found that exercise can be the antidote, studies showed that ‘Brains on exercise’ morphed overtime into a biochemically calm state that remained steady even when the subjects were under stress.
For me it’s the rhythm and flow of running that makes me forget everything but also focuses my mind….it’s selfishly, very much, my time. It doesn’t have to be running, any form of exercise can be a form of stress release. If everything seems overwhelming try calming, rhythmic exercise such as Yoga or Dance Classes, if stress is making you Angry try Boxercise or a Martial Art.
The most difficult part is getting going, but the benefits can be immediate and long lasting. It’s so worth getting on your trainers, setting off for a brisk walk and making an exercise plan. It’s that simple.
REPS Level 3 Personal Trainer