Stress and Exercise

Posted by Olivia Van der Veen on 29 September 2013

We all know that regular exercise is good for us; it can bring changes to your metabolism and heart but also our spirits. We know that when we workout after a stressful day that we feel good after getting rid of pent up frustration and stress.  However, a lot of people don’t know why exercise relieves stress other than the fact that it releases some endorphins that seem to do the trick.

Exercise essentially burns away chemicals such as cortisol and norepinephrine which cause stress. At the same time, vigorous exercise releases endorphins into the system. Endorphins are a hormonal compound which are similar in structure and effect to opiate drugs and are released during strenuous activities, accidents and even childbirth as the body’s response to pain or physical exertion. Other chemicals like dopamine and serotonin are also released in the brain during exercise. Together, these give a feeling of safety and security that contributes to off-setting some of the "internal" causes of stress, such as uncertainty, pessimism and negative self-talk.

Behavioural factors are also affected by exercise. As your waistline shrinks and your strength and stamina increase, your self-image will improve. You’ll earn a sense of pride and self-confidence. Your renewed energy will help you succeed in many tasks, and the discipline will help you achieve other lifestyle goals. Exercise and sports also provide opportunities to enjoy some solitude or to make friends within the Fitness Canterbury family.

Unfortunately, external stressors can’t be avoided but with regular exercise, stress levels can be decreased. So the next time you’ve had a long and stressful day, hit the gym and relieve some stress. It may be the last thing you want to do, but you’ll definitely reap the rewards afterward.

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