How exercise can help you achieve your inner calm

November 30, 2016 9:12 pm

By Nina Swift

When I’m feeling stressed out after a LONG day at work or my three-year-old has had his fifth tantrum of the day, I turn to exercise and all is right with the world once more. And let’s face it at this time of year, with Christmas just around the corner, we need to try and relax more than ever.

People who exercise regularly will always tell you they feel better after a good workout, and there is plenty of evidence out there to highlight the stress-relieving benefits including:

  • Helping you feel less anxious: Exercise is being prescribed in clinical settings to help treat nervous tension. Following an exercise session, doctors have measured a decrease in electrical activity of tensed muscles. People are often less jittery and hyperactive after exercise.
  • Helping you to relax: One exercise session generates 90-120 minutes of relaxation response. Some people call this post-exercise euphoria or endorphin response. Many neurotransmitters, not just endorphins, are involved. They improve your mood and leave you feeling relaxed.
  • Making you feel better about yourself: Think about those times when you’ve been for a really long run or you’ve just hammered a HIIT session. Haven’t you felt better about yourself? That feeling of self-worth contributes to stress relief.
  • Making you eat more healthily: People who exercise regularly tend to eat more nutritious food. And it’s no secret that good nutrition helps your body manage stress better – one of the many reasons why I love Filmore & Union!

The buzzword of the moment is ‘hygge’, which in essence means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. It’s about leaving our everyday stresses behind.

To me, the warm glow you feel after you exercise is ‘hygge’ and there is nothing better than that euphoric feeling you all share after a challenging group exercise session – good fun with good people!

So now it’s time to put this amazing natural stress-reliever into practice and make some time to get physical on a regular basis!

Try these to get you started:

Aerobic activity: If you can squeeze in 20 minutes a day for at least five days a week, then you’re onto a winner when it comes to lowering those stress levels. It won’t take up a big chunk of your day (you could even do a quick HIIT session in your living room), but it will significantly improve your ability to control stress.

Group exercise classes: I am a class junkie and I love nothing more than doing lunge jumps, burpees or barbell squats with like-minded people. It’s a lot less painful when you’re all in the same boat and I’ve made some awesome new friends by doing classes – it’s hard to be stressed when you’re all laughing at the latest impossible move your instructor has thrown at you!

Yoga: Maintaining a yoga practice can be a great way to reduce stress, stay in shape and calm the mind. Seated postures like child’s pose can induce feelings of calm and help put the mind in a meditative state, while empowering positions like standing forward bend and eagle pose can calm the mind whilst also energising the body – what’s not to love after a hard day at the office?

Recreational sports: Play sports like tennis, football, netball or squash – or whatever you’re into! These games require the kind of vigorous activity that rids your body of stress-causing adrenaline and other hormones. It’s important to also focus on the social benefits of sport – laughing and having fun while doing exercise is all part of the appeal and it does wonders for your stress levels and wellbeing.

And failing all this, I recommend a nice big glass of wine…

About Nina:

A former journalist, Nina has swapped the press for press-ups and the mum-of-one is currently training to be a personal trainer with Premier Training International.

Combining her love of fitness with her passion for healthy food, the dedicated Filmorite also has a public relations role at Filmore & Union.

PT in training, Nina Swift.