Stress-busters through fitness


Reese Witherspoon, in the blockbuster rom-com movie, Legally Blonde, made us laugh when she refused to believe that their client, the wife of a rich, older man, killed her husband. The woman charged with the murder was a successful fitness entrepreneur and instructor. “And why do you believe that she’s innocent?” her Harvard Law School Professor and senior partner at the law office she was connected with asked her. “She couldn’t have done it! Exercise gives us Endorphins. And Endorphins make us happy. And happy people just don’t shoot their husbands,” she argued. “They just don’t.”

She was right. As the story unfolds, we find out who the real killer was. For our purpose, though, let us focus on how exercise can relieve us of stress. Many of us go through stressful situations every now and then. Overwork, over-fatigue, not enough money to pay our bills; conflict with others; a sick family member in the hospital, diagnosed with Cancer.

“77% of us feel the physical effects of stress on a regular basis in the form of headaches, insomnia, anxiety, weight gain, muscle aches and pains, crankiness and difficulty in focusing,” (Wahner, Paige, VeryWellMind, 2018).

Indeed, stress has become something we all have to contend with. We may experience it in different degrees/intensities. While we can’t make it go away, we would have to find ways of managing it. Worrying about our particular stressors would just make matters worse. We need all our energy to battle the troubles we face. A pro-active way of living a stress-free life is to incorporate exercise in our daily lives.

So what do we get when we exercise? “It pumps up our Endorphins, it is meditation in motion and it improves our mood (Mayo Clinic, 2018).

As we dance to the beat of Zumba music or compete in a Beach Volleyball or Frisbee game at the Rizal Boulevard, the happy hormones called Endorphins come out, creating a sense of well-being. “Endorphins are the feel-good neurotransmitters that are responsible for the coveted runners’ high. It’s the sense of well-being and euphoria that many people experience, after exercise.” (“Exercise as Stress Relief,” Healthline, 2016).

Further, we achieve the serene benefits of meditation while moving our body through Yoga, Taichi or Pilates exercises. Negative thoughts fly out the window as we do our Yoga and Pilates poses. We sink deeper into the essence of “mindfulness” or “living in the present” as we concentrate on mastering our postures and poses. We are also reaping the benefits of improved balance and flexibility.

Finally, exercise improves our mood. Ever had a bad day that started all wrong? We wake up feeling grumpy, we get pissed off at the littlest thing, we scream at the level of noise we hear… Exercise improves our mood, calming us down along the way.

Other stress-busters include meditation, laughing, visiting family or friends and going for a massage. Reducing our stress level through exercise is one desirable goal for a quality lifestyle. And the good news? It’s never too late to start!