The Effects of Stress on Your Health and Well-Being

The Effects of Stress on Your Health and Well-Being

Stress is a part of life, but when it becomes chronic, it can lead to significant health problems. Chronic stress may cause cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic gastrointestinal problems. It can also contribute to anxiety, irritability, difficulty sleeping, substance abuse, worry, and more.

The good news is that physical activity is one of the most successful tools to combat it. Exercise triggers your body to produce more endorphins – neurotransmitters that improve one’s mood. Movement also fights increased cortisol levels (from stress) while at the same time improving blood flow.

The Impact of Chronic Stress on Your Health

When you’re stressed (whether physically or emotionally), your body gets into fight-or-flight mode. Cortisol rushes through your system, telling your body to release glucose in order to provide your muscles with energy so you are better prepared to fight off a threat – or run away.

During this “cortisol rush,” your heart rate increases, your breathing becomes faster, and you may feel nauseous or dizzy. If you really needed to flee or fight, your cortisol levels would lower back down right after the threat is gone. But when you’re chronically stressed, cortisol levels continue to be up.

Occasional stress is fine however remaining in that heightened state is not. Prolonged high levels of cortisol can worsen cardiovascular disease, chronic gastrointestinal issues, diabetes and other health problems. Stress also contributes to poor sleep, anxiety, irritability, chronic distrust, substance abuse and worry, among others.

Relieve Stress with Physical Activity

Several studies support the positive effect of exercise on stress. Physical activity has been found to markedly reduce anxiety systems, and this has been found in a 2014 study published in NLM.

Another study by Frontiers of university students found that engaging in low- to moderate-intensity aerobic exercises for 6 weeks aided in the improvement of the students’ depressive symptoms and stress.

Types of Exercise That Relieve Stress

A lot of studies have found that running, dancing, swimming and other forms of aerobic exercise are the most efficient when it comes to getting endorphins rushing through your body. However, even gentler forms of exercise like walking, yoga and strength training also work.

A 15-minute stretch, followed by brisk walking for 15 minutes can do so much to improve your overall mental and physical health, as long as you’re able to do this regularly.

Make Exercise a Social Activity

It’s generally understood that social engagement is a powerful protective factor for better mental health. This is why we encourage people to pair up with a buddy or workout with a group of friends in gyms like Gold’s. Doing this can make the activity feel more like a treat or a fun activity instead of something we dread doing.

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