Friday, May 2, 2008

Sweat Away Stress!

It may sound surprising coming from the editor-in-chief of SELF, but one of the major reasons I exercise is to beat stress. Seriously, if I go more than 48 hours without my usual morning run around Central Park with my collie-retriever mix, Jenny, at my heels, I start to feel anxious and short-tempered. That's when I know I need to get outside and move, if even just for half an hour. After 30 minutes of heart pumping, I can feel my stress disappearing. And when I'm finished, I feel as if I can weather almost anything that comes my way, especially at work.

At SELF, we've reported on a raft of studies that support the idea that exercise has a powerful impact on mood. To name just a few:

1. A recent article in the journal Nature Medicine reported that cardiovascular activity stimulates a specific area in the brain that controls mood and stress (it was an animal study, but hey, I'm willing to extrapolate—we're all just animals with mortgages!).
2. People who suffer from panic attacks who took a 30-minute walk when they felt on the verge of a meltdown were twice as likely to dodge an anxiety episode as those who rested quietly.
3. Researchers at the University of Georgia at Athens found that the more workouts people managed to fit in each week, the more energetic they felt.

So how much exercise does it take to lift your spirits? As I mentioned, 30 to 45 minutes a day does it for me, and a study at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas suggests that walking as little as 2 miles a day, every day, can help boost your mood.

But remember, every step counts. So next time you're feeling stressed or anxious, lace up your sneaks and get your body moving. The calorie burning is a nifty bonus!

Source : Yahoo Health!

No comments: