Have you ever wondered why you feel so good after taking a walk or riding a bike? Exercise has so many benefits, including the fact that it provides natural stress relief.
I’ve always tried to make time to exercise a few times a week. I consider it very important to my physical and emotional health. This morning I was on call and had to go in for an emergency appendectomy. When I left the hospital I headed straight for the gym. And as luck would have it, I happened to be in time for a Zumba class 🙂
I suck at Zumba but I was glad to be there. I just wanted to move around and get my heart rate up. And Zumba is more way more fun than just doing a treadmill. Plus I forgot my headphones so I couldn’t listen to an inspirational podcast. Another plus: the class was filled with mostly middle-aged women, so I didn’t feel intimidated. Actually I fit right in 🙂
The teacher was a young girl. She had a beautiful smile and a great attitude. She shared this passage with us before class started:
“Physical exertion is the most natural outlet for your body when it’s in a state of stressful arousal. After 15 to 20 minutes of vigorous exercise, neurochemicals called catecholemines are secreted into your brain and endorphins are released into your bloodstream. Catecholemines help fight depression and encourage creativity, while endorphins are natural painkillers and mood elevators. So after exercise, when your body returns to its normal equilibrium, you feel relaxed, refreshed, and capable of seeing your problems in a whole new light.
Exercises such as walking, running, swimming, cross-country skiing, or stair climbing are effective catalysts for creative problem solving– particularly if you practice putting your source of stress out of your mind while you exercise.
Prior to your workout, identify a problem that’s been on your mind. As you begin your exercise, put the problem aside. Concentrate on your stride or pace, your surroundings, the sound of your breathing, how you feel– anything but the problem. What you may find is that another way of looking at the problem springs to mind during your workout or right after you finish.
Today I’ll take a vigorous 20 minute walk, letting my arms swing and my muscles stretch as I set a good pace and just let my mind relax.”
From Peace of Mind: Daily Meditations for Easing Stress, by Amy Dean, p. 143.
I was really moved by the passage and wanted to share it with you. (I was also pretty impressed that this 20-something girl was reading such a cool book. When I was her age I was partying my nights away.)
After she read the passage, she asked us to identify something we were irritated about today, and she asked us to set it aside and just get into the class. I noticed I was mildly irritated at my husband – what else is new, lol? (As it happens, he wants to make a very large purchase on something we totally don’t need- a boat!)
I have to admit, after listening to her suggestion, I was pretty happy to set the irritation aside and just let myself enjoy the class.
(In case you’re wondering how I found the book I asked the instructor if I could take a picture of her book and of the passage-so I could look it up and share it with you here).
I left the class an hour later sweating my ass off and feeling invigorated and happy. And I wasn’t thinking about being pissed off at Bob either. Nice! Now that’s what I call a great way to start the weekend 😀
So friends, if you are feeling stressed or bogged down with something, give yourself the gift of a 20 minute walk or run or bike ride. Or hey, maybe you can try some Zumba!
Set your troubles aside during your exercise. And see if that doesn’t make you see things a bit differently, and give you some mush needed stress relief 🙂
xo, Lisa Arcelia
Thank you for reading!
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