Like taxes, stress is a part of everyone’s life. If you read an any article on stress most experts tell us that some stress is good because without it there would be no motivation to do anything!
However, if you are like some people, serious stress and anxiety makes them feel bad physically and unable to eat, which isn’t good at all!
For most of us though, stress is at a low-level most of the time. Our daily tasks and relationships give us a bit of stress but not to the point of major anxieties. Our bodies response to low-level stressors is designed to motivate us to action with a slightly raised heart rate and increased mental clarity similar to the response to caffeine.
In times where stress levels go higher, the responses are, what we at the Port Credit Academy of Martial Arts, call the Survival Stress Condition (mostly known as the fight or flight response). The body sends blood to the extremities to get ready for action! These responses are normal and good for you except when the stress levels remain high for a long time. When the body is continually in a stressed state, the 11 systems (integumentary, muscular, skeletal, nervous, circulatory, lymphatic, respiratory, endocrine, urinary/excretory, reproductive and digestive.) begin to break down. Think of it like a car engine where the throttle is stuck, and the engine is constantly revved up. Not only will it consume A LOT of fuel, but the mechanical parts will wear out faster.
So, what to do to protect ourselves from this? RELAX of course and EXERCISE. Exercise helps us relax both physiologically and, if it’s enjoyable, provides a mental escape from the stressor.
The physiological effects of exercise include release of morphine-like neurochemicals (which include β-endorphin) produced in the brain’s hypothalamus and pituitary gland that give us a sense of well-being. Have you ever heard the term Runner’s High? This is caused by the release of endorphins into the blood. Since these natural chemicals stay in the bloodstream for four to five hours after stopping the activity, the ‘feel good’ feeling remains for a while.
OK, so we know why exercise can help with anxiety and stress. But what are some of the ways regular exercise keeps us healthy in normal, low-level stress, times?
Here are the top five:
- Using a daily dose of natural ‘feel good’ neurochemicals is healthier than drugs or alcohol!!
- Looking fit, healthy and strong (It’s ok to admit that looking good makes you feel good!)
- Feeling good from accomplishment and improvement.
- Escaping from the daily grind for an hour or so.
- Keeping the 11 body systems ready to handle high-level stress.
The key to lowering stress with exercise is that you ENJOY the exercise that you choose to do. If you dislike going to the gym, it’s not going to lower your stress and in fact it probably will add some! Also, studies are showing over and over that even low intensity exercise helps anxiety, so any activity you enjoy is good. For me, when I am under stress, nothing works better than a Martial Arts class. The movement, comradery, and high heart rate just melt troubles away.
In fact, hundreds of our students earned their Black Belt as well as being Doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, dentists, engineers, grade school teachers, high school teachers, University professors, entrepreneurs, business owners, accountants, IT specialists, social workers, actors, musicians, contractors, electricians, plumbers, students, dads, and moms tell me that the sense of achievement from competitive sport like the Martial Arts makes them feel less stressed!
The bottom line? The less active we become, the more challenged we are in dealing with stress. To decrease the effects stress on your body, pick a fitness or sports activity you enjoy, like the Martial Arts taught at the Port Credit Academy of Martial Arts, do it regularly and HAVE FUN.
In case you were wondering what other benefits Martial Arts training offers beside stress relief check out our blog on the top nine benefits of Martial Arts and why you should get involved:
At the Port Credit Academy of Martial Arts, we teach a way of life. For over 30 years our professional Martial Arts system is a well thought out curriculum that teaches more than just the art of self-defense. We delve deep into our students’ technique, skill set, confidence, concentration, intelligence, intuition and overall physical fitness.
The Port Credit Academy of Martial Arts has been voted the best club in Mississauga and Port Credit area since 1995 (that’s 21 years!) by the readers of the Mississauga News. In addition, the Academy was voted as the “Top Choice” for Martial Arts clubs in Mississauga for the last two years (2016, 2017). Most recently, the Port Credit Academy of Martial Arts was voted as a 2017 Mississauga South Business Star for Community Impact Excellence.
Contact us today if you’re interested in martial arts and self-defense classes and schedule your free-trial class!