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How exercise can relieve stress

Trinity Sport Fitness Instructor Mark McGauran gives his nutrition and exercise tips to relieve stress

Published: April 16th, 2020, 15:00hrs

In the previous article ‘How to Eat When You’re Stressed’, I talked about the stress response and how healthy eating can positively sustain us during stressful times. Part of the problem with modern stress is that your stress response primes you for physical fight or flight action, but you seldom get to deal physically with the stressor. This makes it harder for your body to reset to normal between stresses.

In the wild, if an antelope manages to escape from a cheetah, for example, after burning up energy from fleeing, it will usually shake itself off through movement to help bring the body back to a parasympathetic state (reset to normal). When your life is chronically stressful, regular moderate exercise (20-40 minutes 5-7 times a week) can help substitute in for a physical stress response, making it easier for your body to reset.

Now the emphasis here is on moderate because stress comes in many forms. If we train at a high intensity all the time and fail to recover adequately then that exercise can become physical stressful and negatively impact our health. An example of this could be an athlete or sports person overtraining and under recovering. Excess fat around the umbilical/belly button area despite being relatively lean can be a sign of high cortisol (a high percentage of cortisol receptors are concentrated in this area)

Exercise can be simple

· Walk at a moderate to brisk pace for 30-40 minute

· Cycle a couple of miles

· Go to a class – dance, Zumba, martial arts, yoga

· Even active housework, gardening or playing tag with your kid's counts

If your stress response system is in overdrive, exercise in morning or late afternoon but not within 3-4 hours of bedtime. Exercise that is too vigorous or frequent can aggravate rather than relieve an overactive stress response system.

If your blood sugar is very high, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. If you have adrenal fatigue, exercise should be gentle and of short duration to further drain your adrenals. Exercises like yoga done before bed can help lower cortisol levels slightly, making it easier to sleep soundly.

Trinity Sport recently launched virtual fitness classes to keep you covered while we are at home from yogalates with Catriona, Sweat with C2F, Boxing with Headon Boxing Academy to dance fitness classes with Trinity Sport Hip Hop instructor Jay Asolo – there is a virtual class for all fitness levels!

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Check out the full Train Online with Trinity Sport timetable HERE .