Professionals from many disciplines will attest to the fact that physical exercise has long been established as a key factor in reducing stress, anxiety, and battling depression. Stress affects not only the brain, but the rest of our bodies. When our bodies are physically challenged on a regular basis and in good health, our minds feel better as well. The endorphins produced from physical activity improves your sleep cycles which in turn, reduce stress.
The act of exercise itself produces important neurotransmitters such as serotonin, that are important for preventing depression and anxiety disorders. What forms of exercise are best for busting stress and keeping serotonin levels in balance? The answer to that is as varied as each person and their comfort levels.
Experts agree that regular exercise 3-5 times a week is as important as what types of workouts you choose. Hard bouts of cardio as well as weight training and deep stretching from yoga are all effective stress busters. Finding a form that works best for your personality and lifestyle is important so that you will stick with it.
If you are a social person, consider a group class to keep you in the game. If you are struggling with anger or over the top work stress, a kickboxing class may be just what the doctor ordered. The intensity inherently releases endorphins leaving you with a feeling of achievement.
If focusing at work is a struggle, perhaps a yoga class to help you center and learn mind-body control and controlled breathing. One session will leave you with a sense of calm and positive outlook. Regular yoga proponents have significantly higher levels of the amino acid GABA, which is associated with depression and anxiety for people with lower levels.
Running has been shown to promote healthier moods because of the repetitive and rhythmic effects on the brain. The same is said of hiking to lower stress hormones. There is something about getting off the pavement, and smelling the outdoors with a break from urban surroundings that calms the mind. If you live too far from hiking trails, you will be surprised to find many “urban hikes” in the middle of Seattle.
Intense cardo 3-5 times a week for 30 minutes a session is recommended for optimal health. However, if it has been a while for you, don’t let that hold you back. Just get out there and do an interval approach that challenges you for a minute at a time, with rest intervals of 30-60 seconds. Continue this cycle for a total of 15 minutes, working up to 30 minutes and you will see improvement in your moods, as well as your fitness level improve within 2-3 weeks.
Remember, it is less important what form of exercise that you choose than it is to just get out there and DO IT!
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