You’ve probably heard it a million times before from your parents, colleagues, and that one overachieving friend who wakes up at 5 am to run 10 miles – exercise is the key to fighting stress, anxiety, overwhelm and frustration.
But let’s be real, who has time for that?
We’re too busy grinding and hustling to even think about hitting the gym. Plus, doesn’t the daily commute count as cardio?
Ok wait, before you write off exercise as just another chore on your never-ending to-do list, let me tell you why breaking a sweat can be the secret weapon you never knew you needed.
And before you start sweating at the mere mention of exercise, let me assure you – it doesn’t have to be all burpees and marathon training. In fact, just a few minutes of physical activity can work wonders for your mental health, no matter how busy you are.
So don’t let the thought of a grueling workout scare you off – even a short walk around the block or a mini yoga session can do the trick.
Ready to have your mind blown with these 10 facts? Let’s go!
1. Exercise Is A Secret Weapon
First of all, know that you deserve some good news in your life, especially when stress and worries seem to be the norm. That’s where exercise comes in – the secret weapon that can change the game of your daily hustle.
And here’s the kicker: you don’t need to be a fitness model or have washboard abs to make it work for you.
In fact, virtually any type of physical activity can act as a stress reliever, no matter your current fitness level.
2. Exercise Triggers Feel-Good Hormones
Wanna know exactly how exercise helps combat stress and anxiety?
It all boils down to your brain’s feel-good hormones or neurotransmitters, called endorphins. These little guys are your body’s natural painkillers, and they work wonders in creating a general feeling of wellbeing, while also helping to balance out the adrenaline and cortisol in nerve-wracked systems. By engaging in exercise, you can intentionally reproduce that arousal and you can do it in a controlled way.
Exercise also imitates the effects of the fight-or-flight response, which you can use to build up resilience. If you expose yourself to it regularly, you become more immune to the harmful effects of stress.
But wait, there’s more!
Not only can exercise help your body manage stress, but it can also work wonders for your mood. Regular exercise can help boost self-confidence and promote a sense of accomplishment. As an added bonus, your ability to relax and sleep may also improve over time, lowering symptoms of anxiety and depression.
So the next time you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, why not try shedding some of that tension with a little physical activity? By focusing on one task, such as your movements or breath during exercise, you can learn to tune out the noise and bring a sense of calm to your body and mind. Who knows, with a little practice, that newfound zen could extend into everything you do.
3. Walking Works For Stress Relief
Walking is an absolute game-changer when it comes to improving your wellbeing. Not only is it a simple and accessible form of exercise, but it also has the added bonus of allowing you to literally remove yourself from stressful environments by using your legs.
Whether you’re dealing with a difficult work situation or just feeling overwhelmed by life, taking a walk can help calm your emotional responses and give you a chance to breathe.
And here’s a little secret – counting your steps can be an excellent way to focus your mind and quiet your worries. Simply count “one, two, one, two” as you walk, and try to focus on your steps rather than your concerns. It might sound silly, but this simple exercise can boost your mental health and help you feel more centered and grounded.
The best part? Walking doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment. Even just 10 minutes of walking at a time can make a difference in your stress levels and overall well-being. Look for opportunities to incorporate walking into your daily routine, such as strolling through a shopping mall, walking to a friend’s house instead of driving, or even using a treadmill while you watch your favorite TV show.
And if you can, try to seize any opportunity to walk outdoors. Not only does fresh air and sunshine do wonders for your mood, but regular walking has been shown to help reduce anxiety and even lower the intensity of panic attacks. So why not lace up those sneakers and hit the pavement? Your body (and mind) will thank you.
4. Exercise Means Immediate Gratification
When will your hard work start to work its magic and give you the mental benefits you crave? The good news is that you can experience reductions in stress and anxiety almost immediately following exercise. It’s like a quick fix for your nerves.
However, if you want to maximize the long-term benefits of exercise, you should consider the following factors:
Frequency: The number of days per week you exercise. It’s better to exercise consistently over time than to do a lot of exercise in a short period. Aim for at least 3-4 days per week.
Intensity: How hard you are exercising. This is a personal choice and should be adjusted based on your fitness level. Moderate-intensity exercise is typically recommended, but some people may benefit from higher intensity.
Duration: The time you spend per exercise session. You don’t need to spend hours in the gym to see benefits. Aim for at least 20-30 minutes per session.
Type of exercise: There are many types of exercise, such as weightlifting, meditative, and aerobic training. Choose the one that suits you best and that you enjoy doing.
5. Exercise Smarter, Not Harder
It’s worth noting that exercising more or harder may not necessarily be better. A study found that an exercise frequency of 3-4 times per week and a session duration of 21-30 minutes potentially work best for the reduction of anxiety.
So, don’t push yourself too hard, and find a routine that you can stick to in the long run.
Moreover, while most medications generally take around 30 minutes to dissolve and start working, typical antidepressants take 2 to 6 weeks to start relieving anxiety symptoms. By the time you start feeling better, you could already be a regular exerciser. Therefore, why not give exercising a try? It’s a natural and cost-effective way to improve your mental health and overall well-being.
6. The 5-Minute Stress Buster
Running late and don’t have time for a full workout? Don’t worry, even a quick 5-minute walk can do wonders for your mental and physical health. Instead of fretting about not having enough time, see it as an opportunity to squeeze in some much-needed movement.
Research has shown that just a few minutes of physical activity can have a positive impact on your mood, energy levels, and overall wellbeing. By taking a brisk walk around the block, you can start to alleviate the symptoms associated with anxiety and stress, such as insomnia and agitation. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy the benefits of fresh air and sunshine, which can be incredibly rejuvenating.
And the best part? It doesn’t have to be a chore. Turn up your favorite song, grab a friend or furry companion, and make it a fun and enjoyable experience. Who knows, you might even find yourself looking forward to your daily 5-minute walks!
So, next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a quick break and go for a walk.
7. Exercise Works Solo And Social
When it comes to exercise and reducing anxiety, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. It’s important to find the form of exercise that works best for you and your individual needs.
For those who thrive in social environments, joining a fitness class or working out with a trainer or group of peers can be motivating and uplifting. Being surrounded by like-minded individuals can provide a sense of community and support that can help you push through your workout and feel less anxious.
On the other hand, some may find that exercising alone is more comfortable and conducive to their mental health. If you prefer to work out solo, consider exercising at home or in a quiet, secluded area with few people around. Use headphones or take your pet along for some company and stress-relieving cuddles.
Regardless of whether you prefer to exercise alone or in a group, it’s important to receive positive and encouraging feedback during your workout. This feedback can come from your environment, such as a trainer or workout buddy, or from yourself. Focus on your progress, and celebrate your achievements no matter how small they may seem.
To help get you in the right mood for exercise, consider listening to your favorite music, a podcast, or a guided meditation session. This can help you focus on your goals, stay motivated, and feel less anxious.
Now that you know what kind of exercise environment works best for you, let’s address two common stumbling blocks that can make it difficult to start and maintain a routine.
8. Understand Physics And The Laws Of Laziness
Ever wondered why starting an exercise routine is such a beast? Let’s explore why it can be tricky for all of us. Despite our best intentions, we often find ourselves struggling to stick to a plan. Why is that?
Well, one reason is something called the law of inertia, which states that objects at rest tend to stay at rest and objects in motion tend to stay in motion. It’s why it can be challenging to get started with exercise if we’re used to a sedentary lifestyle or if we’ve fallen out of the habit.
Another reason is that our lives are full of distractions and competing demands for our time and attention. It seems like every moment of our day is already accounted for with work, family, social obligations, and other commitments.
Even if we schedule time for exercise, it’s easy for that time to get swallowed up by something else. It’s like trying to dig a hole in the sand on the beach – no matter how hard we work at it, the hole always seems to fill back up with sand or water or both.
9. How To Crush The Laws Of Laziness
But don’t worry – there are ways to overcome these challenges and make exercise a regular part of your life. Here are some tips to help you get started and stay on track:
- Start small: You don’t need to run a marathon on your first day of exercise. Start with a few minutes of stretching or a short walk, and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts over time.
- Schedule exercise as a priority: Make exercise a non-negotiable part of your daily routine by scheduling it in advance and treating it like any other important appointment.
- Find a workout buddy: Having a workout partner can help keep you accountable and motivated, and can make exercising more enjoyable.
- Eliminate excuses: Identify the excuses you commonly make for not exercising and come up with ways to overcome them. For example, if you don’t have time, try breaking your workouts into shorter sessions throughout the day.
By taking these steps, you can overcome the inertia and natural tendency to fill up our time, making it easier to establish a regular exercise routine that can help reduce anxiety and improve your overall wellbeing.
10. Well Begun Is Half Done: A Simple Guide To Get You Started
Ready to kickstart your fitness journey but don’t know where to begin? I’ve got the perfect 9-step plan to get you started on the right foot!
- Take the first step by going outside and walking around the block. No need to change clothes or shoes, just open the door and walk off.
- When you come back, write it down on your monthly calendar or check it off on the Earkick selfcare companion app. Seeing your progress displayed with a check mark will give you a sense of accomplishment.
- Keep taking small steps, one day at a time. The next day, do the same thing and give yourself another pat on the back.
- If you get bored, increase the duration of your walk, change the route, or walk faster. Just change one thing at a time.
- Keep increasing your exercise until you are doing at least 10 minutes per day. If it takes a whole month or more, that’s fine. Just imagine how great it will feel to see your journal fill up with checked-off actions.
- After 14 consecutive days, celebrate your progress and consider yourself a “regular exerciser”. Reward yourself and share your victory!
- Decide whether you want to continue the 10-minute routine or try something new. Join a gym, take a dancing class, or give martial arts a try. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s fun.
- Keep it up! If you have to interrupt your routine due to sickness, injury or other inconveniences, don’t worry. Inertia works both ways: the tendency of your body in motion is to remain in motion!
- Remember to give yourself a break and don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. Get back into it as soon as you can and keep up the good work. You’re on your way to a healthier, happier you!
Here’s a short video on how to set up a walking routine in the free Earkick app and how to turn it into a running routine over time. It’s super simple and you can customize the reminders to suit your life-style.