Copyright © 2014 Herona Kim
Physical fitness is seen as a measure of the body’s ability to perform functions efficiently and effectively in work as well as leisure activities. It is characterized by various facets, health-related, namely, body composition, flexibility, strength, muscular endurance and cardiovascular fitness; and skill-related, namely, agility, balance, coordination, power and speed. Breathing is directly related to physical activity and hence, fitness. Physical activity leads to a rise in body temperature and heart rate. A control on breathing patterns helps to moderate heart rate which, in turn, regulates the body temperature. An efficient breathing pattern ensures oxygen delivery to the muscles ensuring that more effort can be exerted. Physical activity improves overall fitness, body mass index, and cardiovascular and muscular health. It also relieves stress, depression and improves cognitive function.
Stress is an inevitable part of our daily life. It leads to various physical and emotional symptoms. One cannot eliminate stressful situations or avoid them completely but managing stress is an option. Physical activity directly attacks stress in two ways. Firstly, rise in heart rate reverses the brain damage caused by stressful events. Stress results in brain atrophy (specifically affecting the hippocampus) which leads to forgetting as often occurs with someone under stress. Secondly, exercise reduces body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol and promotes the production of neuro-hormones associated with improved cognitive function, good mood and learning. Also, exercise improves communication between various physiological systems of the body. This leads to a more efficient response put forth by the body to deal with stress.
There are numerous indirect ways by which physical activity targets stress. It releases tension and acts as a substitute for the fight or flight mechanism. It is a diversion from day-to-day stress and provides a sedative effect through natural physical movement. Exercise increases energy and fatigue tolerance thus overriding the effects of stress which depletes energy. Regular physical activity lends itself to an increase in one’s control over the body further helping in normalizing heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension further alleviating stress reactions. Exercise improves one’s emotional well-being, boosts self esteem and confidence thus leading to minimal stress-related problems.
Physical activity releases endorphins, also known as happy hormones. This results in a feeling of euphoria, modulation of appetite and enhancement of immune response which put together combats with the negative effects of stress and generates a positive outlook. Exercise is also akin to meditation in motion since it distracts us from stressful situations and brings the focus to body movements. This further leads to calmness and clarity across all situations. Physical activity lowers symptoms associated with depression and anxiety, and improves sleep. It leads to an increased control over one’s mind and body, and improved alertness and concentration.
Stress negatively affects relationships, work and finances by leading to poor decision making, constant conflicts and low self-image. Physical activity helps by elevating mood, improving attention-concentration and increasing self-confidence. This results in better functioning, careful decision making, less interpersonal conflicts and overall physical and emotional well-being.
Herona Kim helps individuals cultivate how to feel relief from stress. Visit http://www.thankyourstress.com