Crisp fall weather is made for physical activity — walking, running, biking, swimming are all fair game. They're excellent forms of aerobic exercise, which means they give the heart a good workout. Even when life is ultra-hectic, it's important to plan for exercise.
Exercise helps control blood pressure, and it helps your heart function optimally when you're under mental stress, according to a Duke University Medical Center study. Additional benefits of regular aerobic exercise: weight loss, improved cardiovascular fitness, lowered heart rate, healthier blood vessels, and a better-pumping heart.
Runner's high is real, research shows. During exercise, the brain produces endorphins — natural chemicals similar to morphine that cause a feeling of happiness. For maximum endorphin benefit, get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times a week, advises the American Council on Exercise.
Yoga and tai chi also help with relaxation. While they won't produce a significant endorphin release, these timeless practices increase strength, flexibility, and balance control. Because they involve deep breathing and calming exercises, they also help in releasing stress.
No Time? Try Lunchtime Workouts
If your schedule is tight, try a 30-minute lunchtime workout. You'll lose the stress and anxiety — and get a boost in energy. Stepping away from work helps clear your mind, helps you refocus, too. You'll be calmer, more productive.
Circuit training is great for a 30-minute workout. If a gym isn't nearby, take a walk. Walk half an hour every day, and you can lose 10 pounds in a year — if you keep your diet healthy. A few more tips:
- Keep a workout bag at your desk: sneakers, gym clothes, basic grooming tools. Baby wipes help you clean up fast so you don't have to shower.
- Pack a lunch so you don't have to wait in food lines.
- Keep small pre-workout snacks on hand, like almonds, walnuts, string cheese, cottage cheese, oatmeal — so hunger won't slow you down.
As we head into the holiday season, these workouts are especially important. Just don't stress out about exercise. With just a little planning, exercise should eliminate the stress!