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By Monika Lenkei • May 10, 2013 • No Comments
Part 4: Reduce Stress with Exercise
In our first three segments we discussed the impact our food choices, their quality, the way we prepare them, and how they effect our well being. Today, we are starting the next three segments where we will explore the role exercise and physical fitness play in preserving our health and vitality.
Stress – The Biggest Culprit
Scientists estimate that 65% of all diseases are caused by stress. As our bodies are constantly bombarded with physical and psychological stressors our immune system starts weakening, our adrenals will start to fatigue and we will start experiencing various negative symptoms. It has been proven that exercise greatly reduces stress, anxiety and helps alleviate depression. When we experience stress and anxiety our bodies automatic “flight or fight” response is activated pumping stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol in our bloodstream, increasing our heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar, and slowing our digestion to direct more blood into our muscles preparing us to exert extra energy to either run away from the source of our stress or fight it. This automatic response saved the lives of our ancestors, when they get attacked by wild animals or faced other unexpected danger. As they ran away or fought off the danger, this extreme physical activity metabolized the stress hormones that were circulating in their bloodstream. Once the threat, which triggered the response has been eliminated their bodies and mind returned to a state of calm. In most cases today, once our “flight or fight” response has been triggered, we can’t run away or fight. We have to deal with being struck in traffic, control ourselves when our boss demands that we work overtime, and deal with the every-day nuisances of our fast-paced lives. The lack of physical activity to counteract our natural response causes us to become not only more aggressive, impatient and over-reactive but it also negatively impacts our immune system. Even a few minutes of rigorous exercise can help release all this pent-up nervous energy and balance our hormones so we can calm down, think clearer and return our bodies to the optimal state. Exercise doesn’t only relax our muscles, it also pumps “feel-good” hormones called endorphins into our blood stream increasing our feelings of calm and happiness. There is a lot of truth to Dr. James S. Gordon’s statement in his book titled Unstuck. He writes that
“[i]f exercise were a patentable and profitable pill, it would be hailed on the front pages of every American newspaper and marketed 24/7 on the television networks” (161).
Stay tuned for finding out how exercise keeps us looking and feeling young inside and out.
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