More about the benefits of exercise and other tools to manage stress in the Morning Mind Book: https://www.themorningmind.com/order
Our bodies were designed to have a ‘regular’ operating mode a ‘rapid’ action mode and a ‘restful’ mode. Unfortunately, our busy hectic lives, media intrusions, fear-laden news and more keep us in the ‘rapid’ action and alert mode.
We call this stress: this is the body preparing for a problem. Gearing up for a fight, preparing to run away, to chase, to act very quickly. This stress state gives us an extra ‘spurt’ of energy when we need it drawing on ‘reserves’ and switching off unnecessary systems.
This stress mechanism is meant to be switched on (e.g. by seeing a predator) then we act (e.g. run away or kill it) then we recover (e.g. sit and calm down). But, if this process is switched on all the time (as we frantically move between meetings, sit stuck in traffic, watch misery on the TV) then we stay in stress and never actually take any action (apart from mentally getting annoyed and frustrated).
The body is expecting an action, after which you can calm down. Exercise provides that action. Hitting, running, movement of any kind uses up the stress hormones, they do their job, then you can calm down afterwards.
This is one of the many reasons exercise boosts your mood, immune system and reduces risk of disease and is a mood-boosting ‘lifestyle prescription’ without side-effects.
When the body completes this cycle stress levels are reduced and happiness hormones increased. But, its also important you find enjoyable exercise. If the idea of exercise is making you stressed then its not going to work. There are many alternative ways to add some gentle or even intense mindful movement to your routine.
Exercise is a viable treatment for depression and the physical, mental and emotional benefits are dramatic and rapid with just a few minutes per day.