Exercise and Stress

Michele Quinn

Certified Personal Trainer


EXERCISE AND STRESS2-2Many people exercise to control weight and get in better physical condition to become more healthy or physically attractive, but exercise and stress management are also closely linked. Exercise can be an extremely effective stress reliever for several reasons:

Outlet For Frustrations:

When life’s annoyances or frustrating situations build up, you can feel stressed or experience low-grade anger. More high-energy forms of exercise like boxing, martial arts or weight training can also provide an effective release of these negative emotions, turning these otherwise potentially unhealthy emotions into motivation for increased health and well-being.

Exercise and Stress Hormones:

Exercise can decrease ‘stress hormones' like cortisol, and increase endorphins, your body's ‘feel-good’ chemicals, giving your mood a natural boost. (This is the chemistry behind a ‘runner’s high’.) Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins . Although this function is often referred to as a runner's high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.


Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All this can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.


Physical activity itself can take your mind off of your problems and either redirect it on the activity at hand or get you into a zen-like state. Exercise usually involves a change of scenery as well, either taking you to a gym, a dojo, a boxing ring, a park, a scenic mountain, a biking trail or a neighborhood sidewalk, all of which can be pleasant, low-stress places.

Lookin’ Good:

You may feel a subtle but significant boost as your clothes look more flattering on, and you project an aura of increased confidence and strength. This does impact many people, and can relieve stress for those who are concerned with their appearance and worry that they don’t look as healthy as they could.

Social Support:

Because exercise and physical activity can often involve others, you can enjoy a double dose of stress-relief with the combined benefits of exercise and fun with friends. Whether you’re in a class with others, working out in the gym with a buddy, playing softball in a league or taking a walk or hike with a friend, having others work out with you can make you feel good as well as help motivate you to push harder to get a better workout without it feeling so much like ‘work’.

Increased Health:

That's right, research suggests that physical activity may be linked to lower physiological reactivity toward stress. Simply put, those who get more exercise may become less affected by the stress they face. So, in addition to all the other benefits, exercise may supply some immunity toward future stress as well as a way to cope with current stress. If that's not a great reason to get more active, I don't know what is!


Thinking of exercise as a form of self care instead of a burden or unpleasant task can assist you in establishing a permanent place for fitness in your life. Exercise is a great way to ease your tension, release anxieties, clear your mind and keep your systems functioning properly. After a short time of consistent exercise you will feel so much better, you'll wonder what took you so long to get started. Enjoy!

15 Common Exercise Excuses

Having motivated and trained 100's of people over the past 15 years, I think I've heard just about every excuse why people don't work out and make it part of their daily life.  Exercise should be as regular as the rising of the sun.

  1. Don’t Have the Time: If busy people can exercise, so can you.  If Barak Obama makes time for exercise, so can you.  Most adults and especially teenagers today give so much importance to other things that they think exercise is not essential. Or even if they may think it is, they do not feel the need to implement it unless severe ailments plaque themI often hear people say, “I’ll start tomorrow”.  Well I say, “Start today and skip tomorrow”.
  2. I’m Too Fat: As with age, extra pounds are rarely an excuse for not exercising. Just be sure to start gradually—walking, swimming, biking, or other exercises that don't involve a lot of pounding are great. And all of us, not just the overweight, need to remember that exercising is not a free pass to eat more. Many people don’t realize how many calories they should actually be eating or how to balance what they take in and burn off.
  3. I’m Busy With My Kids: Work around your kids' schedule as best you can; waking up before they do may not sound appealing, but many parents say it's the only time they can be sure to get in an uninterrupted workout and some much-needed alone time. Alternatively, work out with your kids—try hiking, walking, biking, or playing an outdoor game.
  4. Exercise is Boring: The best way to avoid being bored is to find an activity that doesn't bore you. Don't like to run? Don't do it. Bike, box, row, dance, or do whatever floats your boat. And once you find something you enjoy, make changes now and then to keep your interest.
  5. I’m Already Thin: Being lean is definitely associated with better health. But exercise has independent benefits that you can't get simply by keeping your weight down. And even if you are in a healthy weight range, you may have an excess percentage of body fat, or what one researcher calls a "TOFI": thin outside, fat inside. (SKINNY FAT)
  6. I Don’t Know How: The next common excuse that I have encountered is that people feel they don’t how to exercise or probably start exercising. The key to such notions or inhibitions is to simply get active – walking, jogging, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, swimming, biking, etc.  Get in touch with your inner child.
  7. What’s the Big Deal: There are some who believe that sticking to an exercise regime isn’t a very big deal. So, if you ask them to get into one, they will only tell you it’s easy. However, it is not so. Ask people who’ve put on weight within no time and it has been so difficult for them to shed the pounds despite repeated efforts and discipline. Yes, to shed weight and to keep in shape through exercise and activity is a BIG deal. It calls for loads of sacrifice and commitment towards a healthier lifestyle.
  8. Not Fit to Exercise: The next very common excuse given by people not to exercise is that they say they aren’t fit enough to perform the exercises. It is never too late to exercise. However, it is imperative to have a complete medical check-up done before getting into rigorous workout sessions.
  9. Exercise Enough at Work: Some people have told me is that they think that being exhausted and tired after work means they are getting a good body workout. Mental and Physical fatigue from work doesn’t equal to exercising.
  10. Exercising Can Cause Injuries and Pain: Most people don’t take to exercising because they assume that exercising can cause them severe injuries, accidents and pain. People suffering from conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, etc need to get themselves thoroughly examined by a doctor before taking to any rigorous physical activity. Otherwise, exercising can be totally safe and painless if done with proper guidance and routine.
  11. Exercising is Costly: Sure, if you’re planning joining that expensive gym or club. However, exercising at home is also an effective way to keeping in good shape and health. For instance, brisk walking can do wonders in trimming your body and can rid you of many health ailments.
  12. Physically Too Demanding: The next common excuse given by people for not exercising is that exercises are physically too demanding. Experts suggest that here comes the need to realize your body’s needs – exercises should complement the requirements and physical fitness of your body. So do not over train or over stress the muscles to lead to accidents and injuries.
  13. I’m Too Old To Start: Another very common excuse given by adults for not exercising is that they feel their age cannot sustain the physical demands of exercise. This simply isn’t true. In fact, exercising can improve flexibility, stability, strength and endurance during adulthood. In addition, various health ailments related to aging such as diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis can be kept at bay with the help of exercises.  “You’re not too old to exercise, you’re old because you don’t exercise.
  14. I Have Arthritis: The arthritic are not exempt from exercise. In fact, strengthening, stretching, and aerobic exercises can build up muscles and remove strain from the joints. Exercise also helps keep off the excess weight that can exacerbate painful symptoms. Both the Canadian and USA governments recently revised its fitness guidelines saying people with arthritis, cancer survivors, stroke victims, Parkinson's patients, and the mentally ill should all talk to their doctors about how to start and maintain an exercise routine.
  15. Don’t Believe in Exercise: if this is true, maybe you believe in being ill.  Many people don’t believe in exercising for reasons best known to them. Be it the futility they see in exercising or never having the need to do so; exercising can keep both the lean and fat in good health. Experts claim that exercising your body through physical activity or exercises can only be advantageous, provided you perform them well and prevent over exertion and injuries. A saying for muscles goes something like this – “either you use it or simply lose it!” And you very well know what happens when you lose muscles, you gain fat.