Shot of a young businesswoman looking stressed while using a computer during a late night at work.

Progress as we call it, can be the death of us if we succumb to the sedentary type of lifestyle which it gives rise to.
Stresses build tremendously because of the increase in complex tasks, desk-bound as they may be, with our fight or flight responses still operative, our modern society offers very little outlet for venting these frustrations. Something physical and strenuous is needed. Clubbing our bosses to death ,although instinctive and may seem a good idea at the time, may not be the most socially acceptable course of action.
So what do we do? Most of us boil up in our own cauldron of anguish until we become ill. The fact is ,apart from losing fat and looking great, we must sweat for our emotional and psychological wellbeing. It’s great coping until we get a hold of our situation.

Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication – MINUS SIDE EFFECTS. As one example, a recent study done by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. In addition to relieving depression symptoms, research also shows that maintaining an exercise schedule can prevent you from relapsing.

Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for many reasons. Most importantly, it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neuron growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel happy. Finally, exercise can also serve as a useful diversion, allowing you to find some quiet time to release yourself from the grasp of negative thoughts that feed depression.

Exercise is a natural and effective anti anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins. Just get moving. Starting is always the hard part. Once you start, it’s a domino effect.

Try to notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the wind on your skin. By adding this mindful element, focusing on your body and how it feels during exercise—you will not only improve your physical condition faster, but you may also be able to interrupt the flow of constant worries running through your mind.

Ever noticed how your body feels when you are distressed? Your muscles may be tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or painful headaches. You may feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps. You may also experience problems such as insomnia, heartburn, stomachache, diarrhea, or frequent urination. The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can in turn lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.

Exercising is an effective way to break this cycle. As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind.

Exercising regularly is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and improve concentration, motivation, memory, and mood. Physical activity immediately boosts the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels—all of which affect focus and attention. In this way, exercise works in much the same way as ADHD medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.

Exercise and PTSD and trauma

Evidence suggests that by really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise, you can actually help your nervous system to become “unstuck” and begin to move out of the immobilization stress response that characterizes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or trauma. Instead of allowing your mind to wander, pay close attention to the physical sensations in your joints and muscles, even your insides as your body moves. Exercises that involve cross movement and that engage both arms and legs—such as walking (especially in sand), running, swimming, weight training, or dancing—are some of your best choices.

Outdoor activities like hiking, sailing, mountain biking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and skiing (downhill and cross-country) have also been shown to reduce the symptoms of PTSD.

From all stand points, exercise is necessary. If we choose not to do that in which we were born to engage , then it would be an excellent idea to acquire a cemetery plot as soon as possible.
As Philip Massinger once wrote “Death has a thousand doors to let our life, I shall find one”. Maybe we have found ours.

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