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Working Out to Relieve Stress - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Posted Nov 07 2008 2:20pm

The good

Working out to relieve stress is great because you are burning off all those stress hormones which, if they sit around in your system, have negative effects on your organs and tissues.

And then there's the fact that regular exercise is good for you, for a whole host of reasons that are not the focus of this post.

The bad

If you use exercise as your daily stress management technique, this is not a good thing.

Why? Because you are still requiring your body to pump out lots of stress hormones and this is not healthy. Eventually your body will become depleted and you may very well not have the same level of energy that you used to.

Relaxation exercises are important too

Exercise is great to burn off those stress hormones, but other relaxation techniques are important as well for:

(1) Bringing down stress hormones.

(2) Reducing your perception of stress throughout the day.

(3) Generally calming your nervous system.

Yoga, daily meditiation and deep breathing are just a few examples of relaxation exercises.

Emotional health takes more than exercise

Also, it is important not to use exercise as your sole means of dealing with anger and frustration. These are emotions that also need to be dealt with on a deeper level.

There is no escape...

Some people also use exercise as a way to escape their emotions; they get in a good workout, get a nice endorphin high and all the bad feelings they were having about themselves/others/their life go away. For a short time.

But they come back in a short while, because they have not been dealt with. Please make sure you are not falling into this trap.

The ugly

Exercise increases the need for anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and quality protein. I am always surprised at the number of people who put so much effort into exercising their body but do not realize that their body needs quality fuel.

Both stress and exercise use up a lot of anti-oxidants, vitamins (especially B vitamins) and minerals.

Round and round she goes

A deficiency of B-vitamins will make you feel more stressed, but your metabolism needs lots of B vitamins to properly burn fat and carbohydrates.

Exercise uses up B vitamins and can leave you not dealing with stress as well. These feelings of increased stress further use up extra B vitamins.  So you exercise more because you feel stressed and further use up  B vitamins.

If you are an outside runner and live in the city, you are breathing in a lot of pollution and this needs to be counteracted with anti-oxidants, a healthy diet and possibly vitamin supplements.


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