To Exercise or To Stress.... You Decide, But we like Exercise!

April 30, 2014

"Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body." ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

It seems the "Govenator" is on to something and the ADAA (Anxiety & Depression Association of America) agrees, "When stress affects the brain with its many nerve connections the rest of the body feels better, so does the mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins — chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress."

Unfortunately, many of us instead of reaching for our sneakers, tend to reach for our favorite comfort food or maybe an alcoholic beverage to help us "feel better". But in effect, we are making things worse, because alcohol is a depressant and "comfort food" usually filled with stuff that is gonna keep us on the couch, not the treadmill.

So the question becomes, how do we change things? We need to change our thinking. Instead of running to the fridge, lace up those sneakers and run round the block. Now I know that's easy to say and not so easy to do, so the first thing we need to do is set some SMART Goals.

  • S - Specific
  • M - Measurable
  • A - Attainable
  • R - Relevant
  • T - Time Limited Goals

What that means is, if you haven't been out exercising in a while, a 3 mile run 5 days a week may be specific, and measurable, but is it attainable at this particular time? Is it relevant — do you even like to run? How long will it take you to run 3 miles if you haven't been exercising in awhile?

Instead, for example, try walking for 1 half hour, 3 times a week — a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time limited goal. When you master that, then just reapply the same SMART GOALS to increase your workouts further if you want to. These SMART goals will also work for those who have been consistently working out for awhile now, but want to change things up or increase their training.

Some other ideas that may help in your keeping you focused on your SMART Goals, is to choose the exercise that is right for you, meaning, walking and running aren't the only things you can do; maybe you would rather do yoga, Pilates, stair climbing, bicycling, swimming, weightlifting or Tai Chi.

Another great idea is to distract yourself with music, grab your RunPhones headphones and play your favorite workout music, or listen to an audiobook. Recruit a work-out buddy - a friend, family member or colleague that will join you, and schedule it. This creates more of a commitment if you know someone is counting on you to be somewhere at a particular time.

According to the ADAA, "Whatever you do, don't think of exercise as just one more thing on your to do list. Find an activity you enjoy; whether it's and active tennis match or a meditative meander down to the local park and back, and make it part of your regular routine. Any form of physical activity can help you unwind and become an important part of your approach to easing stress."

So did you decide? Exercise, right? Now get out there and get moving!

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