Generally, you hear all kinds of people tell you that how stress relieving exercises can help you feel better–so much so that you become aware that there is a psychological aspect to dispelling stress through exercise. But, did you know that the greatest benefit is the physiological one?
In order to understand why this happens we should understand how the body deals with stress.
How the body deals with stress
This, in simple terms is as follows. When we experience a stressful event, our brains release stress hormones that signal the body to be ready for “fight or flight”. This is when that belly-fat producer is collected in the body called cortisol and affects a myriad of other things which contribute to heart disease and stroke. So, needless to say the opposite effect happens when we do stress relieving exercises.
Why we turn to comfort foods
Comfort foods are the foods that we crave when we are under duress of any kind. There are reasons why you crave certain foods because they have particular properties in them that will trigger feel-good hormones such as serotonin, melatonin norepinephrine and dopamine. These foods are–but not limited to–chocolate, (dark chocolate, in small quantities is great for you), ice cream, fats, sugars and alcohol.
Why exercise can take the place of comfort foods
Because aerobic exercise and stretching such as yoga–will in fact–release the same exact aforementioned feel-good chemicals, it banishes the urge to replace the need for comfort foods. These stress relieving exercises bring along a host of other benefits as well–such as weight control, increased fat-burn, higher metabolism and the craving of healthy and high energy foods. Exercise keeps you younger and gives you energy on your worst days.
What exercises should I be doing?
This is the easiest question to answer now that you know the concept of why we reach for comfort foods when we are stressed.
- Any exercise that encourages hormonal flow in through the endocrine system such as walking and yoga
- Playing a sport
You can engage in all your favorite activities and it won’t even feel like exercise which is the best exercise to engage in. To make it more enjoyable, get a group of friends together or join a stress relieving exercise meetup to make new ones.