All About Exercise and Stress

Exercise and Stress: Manage your tolerance to stress with physical activity

Taking up physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress and you don’t need to be a regular gym goer to benefit.  Any type of physical activity which gets you moving is beneficial.  Exercise releases endorphins which help to improve mood, relieve stress and provide  a distraction from your daily worries.

Closeup sad young woman with worried stressed face expression and brain melting into lines question marks. Obsessive compulsive, adhd, anxiety disorders

Exercise and stress: 4 important rules for your daily routine.

Rule No. 1 – Start off Small

Next, set aside 10 mins in your day to do an activity which elevates your heart rate and makes you break out into a sweat.  This could be something simple such as taking a brisk walk to the store or parking your car further away from your destination so you can take a brisk walk the rest of the way.  Over time increase the duration and intensity of your activity.

Alternatively, starting a fitness or dance class is another good way to help you switch off from your daily stresses.  Teaming up with a friend is very helpful because you are more likely to go if you are meeting someone, and there is also the social aspect too, which is beneficial to alleviating stress.  Small changes can make all the difference.

Finally, try working out at home!  There’s loads of ways to get your fit on in the comfort of your own surroundings – you can see more ‘Fitspiration’ in the rest of our blog.

Rule No. 2 – Make sure you’re eating well 

Another important consideration is your diet.  Adopting healthy eating habits can have a positive impact on your mood. This doesn’t need to be a strict diet but including mood boosting foods can really help.

Homemade Healthy Steel Cut Oatmeal with Fruit and Cinnamon

Eating breakfast is important for both metabolism and mood

Jenny’s Food Tips

  • Eating whole foods in their natural state (non processed) is a good way of ensuring that your body receives all the nutrients it needs for body and brain function.
  • Include a healthy breakfast!  Breakfast boosts your metabolism and mood. It will also set you up for the day giving you energy and focus.
  • Including fresh fruit, vegetables and lean sources of protein (fish, chicken, turkey, eggs for example) in home prepped meals is a positive move.
  • Reduce sugar and refined carbohydrate intake and takeout meals, only have these as a treat now and again.
  • Don’t get hung up on calorie counting! Think more about including lots of variety into the diet and only use wholesome fresh foods.  Including lots of vegetables is a great way to help feel full and will prevent you from overeating.
  • Drink plenty of water! Dehydration can be confused for hunger.  Keep well hydrated this way you are less likely to overeat.
  • Portion size. More often than not portion sizes are too big, especially when eating out.  Monitor your intake and stop eating before you are full, it takes a few minutes for the brain to register full and that the body has had enough.  Eat slowly and always include water to drink.  If you don’t feel full at the end of your meal opt for more vegetables or finish off with a piece of fruit.

Making these simple choices can help improve your mood and improve your health and wellbeing.

Rule No. 3 – Get enough rest & relaxation

Rest is very important for health and wellbeing and reducing stress.  If you are struggling to sleep or your sleep is disturbed this can increase your stress levels and leave you struggling to function and focus throughout the day.

How to get a good night’s sleep:

  • Aim to go to sleep at the same time every day. Go to bed when you feel tired, you should wake naturally without the need of an alarm.  Should you wake feeling tired and groggy an earlier bedtime is needed.
  • Take regular exercise.
  • Avoid sleeping in as this can disrupt your normal sleep pattern.
  • Ensure the room you sleep in is of a cool temperature, calm and relaxing and block out the light.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.
  • Have a warm bath.
  • Learn to switch off. Don’t go to bed with a busy mind, make a list of things you need to remember for the next day and let that be it.
  • There are many relaxation methods you can use such as meditation, listening to soft music, stretching and yoga. Experiment with different methods and find what works for you.

Rule No. 4 – Take time to understand stress and the symptoms personal to you

Everyone of us experiences stress at some point in our lives.

How we handle and control stress differs from person to person.  Some people are able to manage their daily stressors with no negative effects to their health or wellbeing and then there are others, whose physical and mental health will suffer from the effects of on-going raised stress levels.

There are many symptoms that indicate your health and wellbeing may be at risk.  Below are just a few common warning signs:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling depressed or generally unhappy
  • Constant worrying
  • Feeling isolated
  • Digestive problems
  • Feeling irritable, or angry
  • Chest pain or palpitations
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Eating more or less
  • Sleeping too much or little
  • Feeling pains in the body
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes or drugs to enable you to relax
  • Habits – nail biting, pacing or fidgeting.

Always consult with your doctor for professional advice if you think stress could be affecting your health and wellbeing.

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