By Valerie Walsh, Assistant GM of Phys-Ed

    Reduce Stress with Exercise

    As a neighbor to the community of Newtown, CT, we have all mourned the loss of life and experienced the stress of that traumatic day brought into our lives. To say that this been a difficult and stressful time for many would be an understatement.

    Everyone deals with tragedies and loss in different ways. However as Fitness Professionals we have been trained to use exercise as a tool, and teach our clients about the variety of psychological and physical benefits from exercise that can help improve the overall well-being. Over the last two weeks the instructors and trainers at Phys-Ed have used methods like aerobic exercise, strength training; meditation in our Yoga classes and music therapy in our Spinning classes to help our members come together and get through this difficult period in our lives. For many, their exercise regime has been a form of therapy.

    Exactly how exercise helps in relaxation and stress management is not clear. It is believed to come from many factors: distraction from worries, the mastery over a particular exercise or sport, positive self-image, and the biochemical and physiological changes that take place. Those changes are increased blood flow to the brain, releasing hormones that stimulate the nervous system. Those “feel good” hormones that you have heard of; endorphins, and those little guys have a tremendous impact on your mood. There is a saying, “I am just one workout away from a good mood!” That is the truth for most!

    How can you put exercise to work for you?

    First, if you haven’t exercised in some time or have medical concerns, you will want to consult your physician before starting an exercise program. Next, it is important to set SMART goals!

    According to the Mayo Clinic SMART goals are:

    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Attainable
    • Relevant
    • Time Limited

    A specific goal can be something as simple as setting a specific time aside each day for a class or workout. It helps to pick the same time each day so it becomes part of your routine.

    Tracking how long it takes you to jog a mile over the span of a month would be a great way to measure your progress while lowering stress.

    Be realistic in how much time you can commit and what you can achieve. Becoming frustrated at not achieving your goal will add to stress.

    Find something you enjoy doing…don’t think of exercise as just one more thing added to your “to do list”.

    A Find a friend to workout with this helps holds you accountable and help you stick to a routine. Look at exercising an essential tool in your everyday routine to help you lead the best life possible.