By Dr. Zachary Theinert, PT, DPT
Stress. Everybody is exposed to it every day to one degree or another, as it is simply an effect of our bodies reacting mentally, emotionally, and physically to changes in our environment.
Some stress can even be brought on by positive changes around us, such as starting a new job or planning an upcoming wedding. But regardless of where our stress comes from, without proactive management it can take a deep toll on us, even leading to poor health.
Indeed, a 2006 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that 43% of adults suffered from adverse health effects as a direct result of stress.
Stress levels can be particularly high as we move into the fall months. The relaxation of summer vacations becomes a fading memory, while the chaotic, stressful preparation for back-to-school and fall and winter holidays loom.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to combat the negative effects of stress in our lives is to exercise.
Countless studies demonstrate the positive physical, mental, and emotional effects of exercise. One of the strongest and best documented positive outcomes of exercise is that it reduces stress levels and effects, helping us to move through the world healthier and more invigorated.
Physically, exercise helps us to combat stress and decrease pain by releasing body chemicals that have numerous positive effects. For example, exercise causes the release of endorphins. These neurotransmitters are produced by the nervous system and act to both reduce pain and improve mood.
You may have heard of phenomena like the “runner’s high” that athletes experience during a workout. This physical rush of good feeling is a direct result of our bodies producing endorphins during exercise. We can also exercise to reduce cortisol levels, which can improve immune responses and support our digestive and reproductive systems. Additionally, exercise helps our concentration, alertness, and cognition while reducing fatigue, all effects which help to counteract the negative physical toll that stress takes on our bodies.
But lowering our stress levels through exercise does not just improve our physical health. It also can promote relaxation and decrease mental anxiety. When we exercise, one of the effects is to lower the level of hormones in the body that accumulate from stress such as adrenaline, which can leave us nervous and jittery. Reducing this and other body chemicals released in stressful situations can help us to avoid the worst mental and emotional effects of stress such as anxiety and depression.
Further, the act of exercise brings options that can provide additional mental and emotional benefits to combat stress, such as the peace and meditative benefits of enjoying solitude, or the camaraderie and comfort brought from building new friendships or nurturing old ones through shared exercise and sport.
Now is the perfect time to begin a new exercise regimen or to improve your wellbeing and work toward the health and success that reducing stress through exercise can bring. If you want to enjoy the many stress-busting effects of a solid exercise routine but are held back by pain or limited physical ability, there is a range of solutions that are available to you.
Doctors and physical therapists can help with an all-inclusive evaluation to help you to identify problems and create a comprehensive plan to tackle challenges that might be standing in your way. Physical therapy can also help those who are already strong and healthy to improve athletic performance, bringing even more strength and ability to the battle against the negative effects of stress. Reach out now to get the help you need so you can embrace the significant physical, emotional, and mental benefits of managing your stress through exercise.
Dr. Zachary Theinert, PT, DPT sees patients at ProFysio Physical Therapy’s locations in Old Bridge and Holmdel. He earned his Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2016 from The University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Dr. Theinert’s clinical experience includes a variety of orthopedic conditions with a focus on sports medicine and vestibular dysfunction. When treating, Dr. Theinert believes in taking a holistic approach that focuses not only on the problem area, but also the health and function of adjacent segments.
ProFysio Physical Therapy has four locations in Aberdeen, East Brunswick, Holmdel and Old Bridge. Call 732-970-7882 to schedule an evaluation.