Exercise is a stressor; so if you're stressed, why exercise? Exercise has an amazing capacity to help us drop into our bodies and release the mental and emotional stresses of life, but it's also a form of physical stress. If you're living a wildly stressful life and piling more and more exercise on top to cope, eventually there will be a breaking point for your poor body.
Let's start by talking about why exercise is great. It's what we call a "eustress" or a good stress. By challenging the body's physical capacity and allowing it to recover, we come back stronger and more resilient.
Exercise helps us to release physical tension and can serve as a break from the pressures of life. It allows us to "complete the stress cycle" by taking physical action on a perceived distress like you would if you ran from a tiger or fought off an attacker. This natural process includes a stressful incident, a reaction or response, followed by rest and recovery. Too many of us skip right over the last step.
During exercise, the body releases a huge wave of heat-shock proteins. These little miracle compounds fly around your body and repair damaged proteins and tag mutated cells for removal by the immune system. That’s part of the reason exercise is linked to a lower risk of many kinds of cancers.
Moving your body is amazing! The more you use it, the more it adapts to being used. That’s why doctors recommend you lift weights after age 35 to remind your bones that you need them to be sturdy and strong. Our bodies have a limited capacity for stress, though. If your "stress bucket" is already full, you won't have room at the top for the eustress of exercise without flooding the bathroom floor.
As we learn to reduce life stressors, our exercise tolerance increases and we are better able to use exercise as a tool for health instead of another challenge to an already frayed system. Watch the video to learn more tools for stress reduction and rest to help optimize your recovery so you can feel your best and be your best in the world.