The physical benefits of exercise — improving physical condition and fighting disease — have long been established, and physicians always encourage staying physically active. Exercise is also considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.
When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. Or, if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins — chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers — and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. About five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
The age of 100 is becoming yesterday’s age 75. Improved health care and living conditions have helped many more people to live longer. Genetics do play a role in long life; but you can do some things to help you live longer and better.
Of course, there is always some rules -or tips- you must follow if you want to conquer longevity: 1-Make room for family. Emphasis on family is tops in helping people to live longer, more satisfied lives. 2-Eat a balanced diet. Science is learning more and more about nutrition with all things pointing to the basics. Eat more fruits and vegetables, less starches, trade white or processed foods and breads for whole grain and whole wheat, and choose fresh over packaged. Watch portion sizes (meat should be the size of your palm; carbohydrates equal a fist.) Eat more dark leafy vegetables. Add moderate amounts of chocolate and a glass of wine to your diet. 3-Keep your weight under control. Keeping your weight under control can help you live longer, and healthier, by helping you avoid the conditions that play havoc with your body. Keeping your weight down will lower your risk of diabetes, which in turn, can lead to high blood pressure, blindness, the loss of limbs, kidney failure and ultimately, death. 4-Be positive. People with positive, half glass full attitudes, are not only more pleasant to be around, but feel better. Good mood and attitude play a big role in how you feel. Approach things at a more relaxed pace to live a longer life. Laugh and don’t worry. You’ll feel better and may just live longer. 5-Exercise. Regular exercise, at least 30 minutes a day as has been suggested, helps improve your mood by releasing the “feel good” chemicals, endorphins. Exercise your mind also with games and puzzles to keep your brain active. 6-Stop smoking. Stopping will hopefully stop further damage and give your cells time to repair themselves. Better yet, don’t start.
Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries.
You know that exercise does your body good, but you’re too busy and stressed to fit it into your routine. Hold on a second — there’s good news when it comes to exercise and stress. Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever. If you’re not an athlete or even if you’re downright out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management. Discover the connection between exercise and stress relief — and why exercise should be part of your stress management plan. Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits. -It pumps up your endorphins. 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. -It’s meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do. -It improves your mood. 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.
Regular aerobic exercise can bring remarkable changes not just to your body, your metabolism, and your heart, but also to your spirits, reports the February 2011 issue of Harvard Men’s Health Watch.
Aerobic exercise is the key for your head, just as it is for your heart. It has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress. Endurance athletes commonly experience the restorative power of exercise, and this has been verified in clinical trials that have used exercise to treat anxiety and depression. How can exercise contend with problems as difficult as anxiety and depression? There are several explanations, some chemical, others behavioral. The mental benefits of aerobic exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.
Behavioral factors contribute to the emotional benefits of exercise. As your waistline shrinks and your strength and stamina increase, your self-image will improve. You’ll earn a sense of pride and self-confidence. Your renewed vigor will help you succeed in many tasks, and the discipline will help you achieve other lifestyle goals. Exercise and sports also provide opportunities to enjoy some solitude or to make friends and build networks. Harvard Men’s Health Watch notes that you should exercise nearly every day. That doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym. But it does mean at least 30 minutes of moderate activity. And if you need more help with stress, consider autoregulation exercises involving deep breathing or muscle relaxation.
Endorphins are the body’s natural pain relievers, and they can be as strong as many of the strongest pain relievers. They are chemicals that occur naturally in the body, and when released they help block pain signals from registering with the brain. Endorphins also help alleviate anxiety, stress and depression — conditions that often turn a chronic back problem into a life problem. The body produces endorphins during aerobic exercise. A “runner’s high” is not just for those running long distances — any activity that gets your blood pumping for a sustained period will release pain relieving endorphins into your system. Try to incorporate any form of exercise that is tolerable into your daily routine – water therapy is usually tolerable for those with severe back pain, or walking if the pain is not too severe. A treadmill has less impact on the lower back than walking on a sidewalk.
In addition to exercise, other activities can also help release endorphins, such as massage therapy, breathing deeply, meditation and acupuncture.