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Up Your Exercise Intensity to Reduce Stress
Exercise has long been touted as a means of improving physical fitness. Recently, research has made the mind-body connection and found it beneficial to mental health as well. Exercise can help relieve stress and anxiety by:
*Releasing "feel good" substances called endorphins.
*Reducing cortisol (a stress hormone) levels.
*Balancing blood sugar levels.
*Reducing other stress hormones like adrenaline.
*Provides a sense of self esteem and self confidence.
*Distracts you from what may be bothering you.
It is generally accepted that exercise can help reduce stress. But how hard and how much have never been determined. Until very recently, low to moderate aerobic type exercise has usually been accepted as the best mode to reduce anxiety.
A study, just completed at The University of Missouri -Columbia may have just upped the ante. The study had three groups of women, ages 18-20 and 35-45, who complete three experimental exercise trials, one low, one medium and one high intensity.
While the time frame of about 30 minutes remains similar to previous research, the higher intensity level was shown to reduce anxiety better than low to moderate paces 30-90 minutes after exercise. All levels showed some reduction in anxiety after exercise.
So next time you've had a really stressful day kick up the intensity of your workout a bit. You should feel even less anxiety when you are done and remain less stressed for a longer period of time.
About the Author: Dr. Lanny Schaffer is an Exercise Physiologist and the President of The International Fitness Academy. For more cutting edge fitness information go to http://www.aerobic-exercise-coach.com