you will be surprised
Your body will respond to stress in many ways. (source: Shutterstock) Your body will respond to stress in many ways. (source: Shutterstock)
When it comes to fitness, it’s a simple as follows: put in enough physical activity to keep your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes every day and strength-train your muscles. Do this regularly, and the key words will be ‘each and every day’.
If you practise these simple habits, you can bring your levels of stress into healthy territory, rather than push your stress to the extreme. Here’s how.
Habit 1: Adopt a 30-minute walking habit
Studies have shown that walking 30 minutes every day can ward off a host of negative health effects, including some signs of aging, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. In fact, one 10-year study out of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden reported that men who walked for 15 minutes per day, every day, could enjoy a lower death rate than men who only took the stairs.
Another study in US showed that just four 30-minute walks per week reduced blood pressure by 8–17 per cent, reduced the mortality rate among women in the last four years of life by 9 per cent, and reduced blood cholesterol levels in all participants.
Habit 2: Walk for your health
For those who can walk or run, make it a habit to walk or run at least 3–5 km every day, and preferably more. Besides lowering your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, this will get you up in the morning, exercise several times a week, and most importantly, will make you feel good. Most importantly, you will have some nice, new miles on your Fitbit, and will feel great in the process.
Habit 3: Focus on ‘power’
When you are stressed, the mind is often in hyper-drive. Your body will respond to stress in many ways. First, a flood of stress hormones cause your blood pressure to rise. When blood pressure is too high, it can cause heart disease.
Other symptoms are drowsiness and fatigue. Your mind is also at work, which means it’s a lot harder to concentrate. Next, your mental stress will be converted into physical pain. This is because you are driven to avoid what’s causing your stress. As a result, your muscles tighten and relax involuntarily.
Other symptoms include muscle aches and pains, and frequent colds or infections. To quell stress and reduce the physical signs of stress, give your brain a chance to slow down. It will respond by relaxing and increasing your metabolism to allow your body to become more efficient at producing heat and using oxygen.
The trick is to control the hyper-focusing of the mind. Think of it as your brain trying to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously. This is important as it is how your brain decides which task to prioritise. When you reduce your mind’s ability to juggle so many tasks, you reduce the physical symptoms of stress, including headache, neck pain and sore muscles. This may sound exhausting, but it’s a great time to check out one of the fantastic stress-relieving exercises at BeActive.
Habit 4: Take time for a calming, deep breath
Breathing can help us control our anxiety. When we feel overwhelmed, our breathing becomes shallow, resulting in a racing heartbeat, shallow breathing and shallow oxygen levels in our blood. Just close your eyes, breathe deep and slow, and you can do this whenever you’re feeling anxious. You’ll feel better in no time.