‘Stress’, there is a certain stigma attached to the word, it is a word that has often been overused and thrown around whenever we feel things getting a little on top of us.

But stress is a very real topic and one that does need to be taken seriously, for example, did you know that in 2014/15, 9.5 million days of work in the UK were lost to due to stress, depression or anxiety related illnesses? That is a huge amount of working days lost and a huge impact to the economy and our healthcare resources. (source HSE)

So what can be done?

There is no miracle cure but you can do something to fight against it, in my opinion the single best way to take the fight to stress is by exercising. Sounds obvious right? So how come so little people do it? It is important to understand why it is so beneficial and overcome any objections attached to it.

What are the Benefits?

  • Regular exercise is known to aide your sleep, when you are stressed your sleep is one of the major things effected, causing you to wake regularly during the night, therefore not enabling your body to recharge fully, thus creating a vicious circle where your productivity during waking hours is seriously compromised causing even more stress and anxiety.
  • It boosts your endorphins. regular exercise raises the production of the brain’s feel good neurotransmitters (endorphins), the better we feel the less stressed and anxious we feel.
  • Playing sport in particular gives the mind something to focus on, when (for example) playing squash all the weights of the world are forgotten. The more you do this the more your body and mind can adapt to a single focus and remain calm and in control.
  • Exercise can easily be free!, going for a walk or run outdoors is an easy way to ensure you get the minimum 30 minutes daily recommendation of exercise, if you don’t fancy that then use your stairs at home for a challenging workout or even doing the housework can count towards you daily amount all at zero cost.


Potential Objections

  • As mentioned above exercise is free, exercise is effectively moving the body for a period of time to raise the heart rate significantly to burn calories, training at home is free but if you have a bit of spare change you can easily join a health club for under £20 per month or sports club.
  • There is no excuse here, whether you like it or not you have the time to exercise, it is probably more important than about 80% of everything else you do all day but yet people claim there are not enough hours in the day. Put quite simply in the words of Fitness expert Paul Brown “Exercise is a non-negotiable”. Create a habit of exercise and it will become part of life.
  • It can be hard to ‘get up and go’ especially when you are feeling stressed and anxious, but if that is the case then you are not alone, joining a sports club or training with a friend will motivate you to not let them (and yourself) down. You are more likely to get up and exercise if you go with a friend, not only does it benefit your stress levels, it does the world of good to your social life.

Despite all this, remarkably 80% of adults do not perform moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes 12 times a month (according to a 2013 study at the Centre for Market and Public Organisation at Bristol University)..

The next time you are stressed, don your trainers and get moving and see for yourself the difference in how you feel.

By Ian Waterhouse

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