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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is exercise beneficial to managing stress?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

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    Bruce Jenkins

    Psychologist, Psychotherapist

    ABOUT BRUCE Registered psychologist since 1991 Broadly Humanistic approach with special interest in Person Centred therapy Over sixteen years experience as a supervisor Taught Counselling … View Profile

    This is one area where the evidence is pretty much conclusive: regular exercise combined with good ‘general health’ strategies (diet, regular sleep, social connectedness) will help reduce ‘stress’.

    We often tend to experience ‘stress’ as feeling burdened or pre-occupied. This is about what is happening in our thoughts and often has an emotional component too. And that's where talking to a counsellor can be a helpful option. There's something about having a safe place to unpack all that is weighing us down, without judgement, that can be hugely relieving.

    So… Yes, excercise is most beneficial in reducing the impact of stress. And talking through what is producing the stress can also be effective.

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    Dr Alexandra Bloch-Atefi

    Counsellor, Psychotherapist

    I am a qualified holistic counsellor & trained psychotherapist practicing in Melbourne, Australia. I specialise in stress management for women, offering one-on-one counselling sessions and … View Profile

    As Annemarie mentioned almost any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever.

    Physical exercise helps to release built up tension, increases production of endorphins as well as reduces hormones that serve as messengers of stress. It also induces a “meditative state”, leaving the day's stresses behind by solely focussing on the movement you are engaged in.

    Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress. Additionally, movement increases breathing and heart rate so that more blood flows to the brain, enhancing energy production and detoxification.

    A particular good exercise for stress relief is walking. Anyone can do it and its easy to adapt it to your schedule. Apart from the obvious (oxygenation, strengthening your immune system, increasing core strength, improving back pain etc.) it also helps to reduce emotional built up through engaging left and and right brain processing.

    Read more on physical exercise and stress,

    hope that helps,

    Alexandra
    www.cmbb.com.au
    Melbourne Counselling, Prahran Counsellor: Alexandra Bloch-Atefi, PhD, VIC
    Find me on Facebook

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    Located in Armadale and Doncaster, Dr Michael Black has an interest in childrens' health and pregnancy. He is passionate aout sharing the benefits of chiropractic … View Profile

    Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries.Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits.

    • It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner's high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.
    • It's meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you'll often find that you've forgotten the day's irritations and concentrated only on your body's movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do.
    • It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All this can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.

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    Dr Adam Gavine

    Chiropractor

    I am a chiropractor who specialises in Active Release Techniques and instrument assisted soft-tissue treatment. I have a keen interest in everything nutritional as I … View Profile

    I agree with what the other practitioners said. Exercise can help relieve stress. There are however, many forms of exercise, and not every form is inherently beneficial for every individual. We are all unique physiological machines, just because we are made up of the same components does not infer that these components are going to work the same in every individual. We all deal with stress biologically, psychologically and socialogically different.  

    Cortisol is a stress hormone released by the adrenal gland. It is a reliable (but not the only)  biomarker for measuring systemic stress on the body. You can get an Adrenal Salivary Index, or ASI test which will measure your cortisol levels.  

    Cortisol in a healthy individual in normally high in the morning (which you get up and get going) and low at night (gearing down for sleep). Some people that are super stress get reciprocal versions of this: low cortisol in the morning (tired even after a good night's rest) and high in the evening (tired and wired). This is a bad sign and can possibly lead to adrenal fatigue.

    Endurance sports such as running a marathon or doing and Ironman triathlon are very stressful on the body and result in increased cortisol levels. So no all exercise helps decrease stress when measured by stress biomarkers of the body.

    Here is a link if you want to geek out on the physiology of stress
    http://robbwolf.com/2012/04/09/real-deal-adrenal-fatigue/

    Hope this helps

    Dr Adam Gavine
    BHK, M.Chiro
    Chiropractor

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    Dr Adam Arnold

    Chiropractor, Hypnotherapist

    I specialize in working with the nervous system to ensure your body is working well. This includes but is not limited to musculoskeletal care. I … View Profile

    I conclued with all the other practitioners.  Exercise helps to balance the nervous system and hormone production.  In addition to exericise, you might also include manual therapies such as massage and chiropractic.  

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    Dr Marco Makari

    Chiropractor

    Dr. Marco Makari is a chiropractor and a qualified AFL sports trainer who specializes in rehabilitation therapy and musculoskeletal injuries. He graduated from the prestigious … View Profile

    Definitely!!  In fact, some research has found that exercise has a better long term outcome when compared to certain medical drugs. I strongly recommend an exercise program that is both enjoyable and maintainable. There are plenty of free lifestyle and wellness resources online. This page is my favorite in particular:http://www.facebook.com/SoaringHealthChiropractic

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    Dr David Wells

    Clinical Psychologist, Counsellor, Psychologist

    Dr David Wells is a fully registered Psychologist with the Psychology Board of Australia. David has experience in both private practice and public sector work.Although … View Profile

    Absolutely. I agree with all above. Regular exercise helps cope with stress.

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    Ash Rehn

    Counsellor, Psychotherapist, Sex Therapist, Social Worker

    Mental Health Medicare Provider of focussed psychological strategies, Counsellor & Therapist specialising in ‘sex addiction’, pornography issues, gay counselling, online therapy. For more information: www.ForwardTherapy.com View Profile

    The NHS and other major health organisations support the most practical things a person can do about stress as being:

    1. Eat well
    2. Get enough sleep
    3. Take regular exercise
    4. Have structure in the day comprising a balance of work, rest and play
    5. Talk about problems

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