Thursday, January 12, 2012

Exercising to Relax

     I’m always looking for more bang for my buck or a way to kill two birds with one stone. So when I stumbled across an article on exercising to relax, it made me stop and think. What if I could burn some calories and clear my mind at the same time? Now we’re talking.

     Experts say exercise reduces the body’s stress hormones and increases the production of endorphins—the stuff that makes you feel good after a tough workout. But the American Psychological Association says that exercise also helps the body deal with stress. Exercise, they say, forces the body’s mental system to communicate well with its cardiovascular and muscular systems.

     Heavy stuff. But here’s my take: exercise lets me get away from it all (like when I go walking), or become another person (like when I Zumba). Through exercise, I’ve met new people and distracted my busy mind with thoughts of beating the opposing volleyball team. When I exercise, my self-image improves because my clothes fit better—and my self-confidence gets a bump because I’ve accomplished something worthwhile.

     But to be successful at the mind-body-connection, you have to find your thing. Don’t train for a marathon if you don’t like to run. Don’t sign up for a dance class if you have two left feet. There’s nothing wrong with a walk around the neighborhood listening to Toby Keith on your iPod. Tell your family and friends that you’re going to schedule time to exercise and make it happen. If it’s not on the list, it won’t get done—and sharing your goal with others makes you accountable.

     Look, if you’re tried of anxiety attacks, insomnia, tense muscles, headaches, and jaw pain, try meditation on the go. Your mood will improve and so will your physique.

By Anne Gill

     Note from Kayla: I’m only one week into my Couch to 5K training and I’m loving how I feel after a training run. Last week, Run 2 happened on the side of Braddock Mountain. And while it’s true that on the uphill sections my internal monologue was something a sailor would be proud of, once I could breathe again, it felt really good to know I had finished my second run on a mountain. My runs are starting to feel therapeutic ­– just me, my dog, my music, and the open road. 

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