The Impact of Exercise on Stress Reduction
Enitan Ekwotafia has a somewhat uncommon understanding of the impact of exercise on a person’s stress level. While on the one hand, she can see the physical results of exercise as a fitness trainer, from a psychological perspective, she also knows how much it can contribute to positive mental health as well. Even better, it doesn’t have to be a specific type of exercise. Any moderate physical activity is going to have a direct impact as a stress-reduction strategy, and that includes everything from walking to swimming to yoga to lifting weights.
Based on the research that Enitan Ekwotafia and others who study psychology review regularly, regular exercise produces multiple effects on the body, both at the physical and chemical levels. These include:
- Endorphin Release – The body starts pumping out chemical changes through neurotransmitters in the brain, which in turn feels like a sense of accomplishment and relaxation. The most common description of this would be a “runner’s high.”
- Reduction in anxiety and depression – A greater amount of energy production and consumption eliminates overthinking which, in a negative form, can lead to mental health issues. Instead, the body is producing higher rates or cardiovascular flow, digestion and increased immunity, requiring more brainpower and having less downtime to cogitate on the negative.
- Single focus meditation – when the body exercises, the brain puts aside other issues and focuses on the activity. This in turn gives it a break from the multi-processing that can lead to chronic stress. That break allows time to repair and heal.
As a fitness expert, Enitan Ekwotafia has seen the positive effects on clients again and again. They start off in one mental state, but with a few weeks of work, people are literally showing more positivity as the stress effects are minimized and chronic stress cycles are broken with solid exercise and rest periods.
In addition to the actual physical benefits, people also realize better sleep with exercise. At the end of the day, the ability to relax and go into deep sleep is improved dramatically with a regular exercise schedule, which in turn achieves REM status. That, Enitan Ekwotafia, is critical for the healing power of sleep for the entire body, general health, and recovery from the day’s damage to the body. Getting more than six hours of sleep (ideally seven at least), with deep repeated REM states, has a profound positive effect of stress reduction as well as building resilience capacity.
While a person will have stress again, especially from the same causal factors of work and life, Enitan Ekwotafia points out that the resilience increase allows people to manage it better versus falling back into the chronic stress trap again. So, while exercise might seem hard to get started at first, simply continuing to stick with it produces a high improvement curve. And, in Enitan Ekwotafia’s opinion, exercise’s output not only eliminates the immediate negative effects of stress, it can actually improve longevity versus accelerated aging.