Stress management and exercise go well together. You may be saying, “but Lynda I am already stressed out how the heck can I fit more like exercise into my day?”
“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.”Hippocrates
Before starting any exercise regimen please consult your healthcare provider.
How do stress management and exercise go together? According to the folks over at Harvard health exercise reduces the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline while also increasing beneficial chemicals in the brain called endorphins. Endorphins help you to feel less pain and increase your mood. Check out the full article here.
So what is the right amount of exercise? Well it will be different for everyone based on ability as well as current level of activity, but essentially for good health we are talking about 20 minutes each day as a minimum.
In fact the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate activity OR 75 minutes per week of intense activity OR a blend of the two. They have great examples of what constitutes each over at their site. Check it out here.
If you are not currently meeting this guideline set by the American Heart Association don’t despair. You can start exercising for less time at lower intensity and gradually increase your efforts over time.
The key is to stick with it.
I usually recommend choosing a start date and then assessing where you are physically. AHA defines moderate exercise as 2.5 mile an hour walking pace (24 minutes per mile) or biking less than 10 miles per hour (about a mile every 6.5 minutes).
Carve out a 30 minute period of time and find a treadmill (or a sidewalk) or bicycle (stationary or regular) and take a stroll or a ride. Then…
- Start a stop watch (or just note the time) and begin walking or peddling.
- Tune into your breathing.
- When you notice your breathing increase in effort, but you can still comfortably talk, that’s moderate exercise.
- If you start to huff and puff and can no longer speak a sentence that is vigorous exercise and you’ll want to slow it down a bit.
- Once you’ve reached your limit write town how long you were at it.
Be honest with yourself and remember self judgement is your foe. The purpose of this is to assess where you are not give yourself a lot of grief over not being further along. It’s hard to get anywhere when someone is standing in your way telling you that you’re a failure. Most of the time that voice is our own slowing us down and increasing our stress.
Once you have the information on your current ability you can start to increase up to the recommendation over time.
- Let’s say that you can comfortably walk at a moderate pace for about 10 minutes.
- Do it daily until it’s a habit and it begins to feel easy. This should happen in about a week.
- Then start increasing the time by about 10 percent of the total each week.
- By week 8 you should be able to comfortably do the exercise for about 20 minutes.
Start to notice the effects of regular exercise on your overall stress levels. Are you…
- Sleeping better?
- Has your appetite come under better control?
- Are you less easily irritated?
Most will notice a decrease in the amount of stress they feel day to day over time. But to notice it, you need to tune in and listen to what your mind and body are telling you.