Using Exercise to Beat Stress

Want to bust stress? Get up and exercise.

July 1, 2013
Using Exercise to Beat Stress

There is no doubt as we get older life becomes more demanding, more complicated and at times completely overwhelming which leads to my least favorite feeling...STRESS! Being successful in life takes great coping skills and whether you were raised with methods to trouble shoot life's ups and downs or you have discovered your own outlet for handling stress, I can assure you, the healthiest outlet is to release all your tension in the gym. Stress has so many negative side effects, as we are all well aware, but the worst part is your body releases cortisol, which in return causes you to store fat! Learning how to manage stress is crucial for a healthy body, mind and soul.

Previously, I have written about making the gym a habitual part of your life and in the same sense it can be an amazing place to lean on, to help you cope with all the demands life brings your way. Some people are stress eaters, others choose to drown their sorrows with alcohol and I will be the first to admit, there have been moments when the only thing I have felt like lifting to relieve my stress was a glass of wine! I went through some personal struggles in 2011-2012 where I didn't have the mental strength to go to the gym, I felt weak and defeated by life and I coped with a glass of Merlot, or two almost every night. It didn't take long for me to recognize this was not helping my situation and was actually keeping me in a bad place. I picked myself up and headed back into the gym, lifting, sweating, and exhausting every last bit of energy I had to push through my workout. It took time for me to get back to "the old Holly" and I remember fighting tears as I climbed away on the Step Mill one night, because I couldn't hold it in and I was an emotional train wreck, I couldn’t help but wonder "what must people be thinking?" And hoping no one came up to me to ask if I was okay, because I would've been a waterfall of tears! I chose to cope with life in a positive way and in return it helped heal my troubles creating a healthier, happier, me.

As I reflect back on the past 20 years, which is how long I have been training, I think of all the people who have come and gone in my life, places I have lived, jobs I have had, and wow, there are so many variables! And then I think about the one thing that has been a "fixed" part of my world these past two decades, besides my husband, and that would be the gym. Sidebar, I married my high school sweetheart, he has been my best friend and rock forever, but I don't want to get all mushy on you! The gym has always been there, ready for me to put a beating on my muscles, ready for me to sweat out my stress and worries. It has been my outlet, my addiction, my silent partner, always there for me. Sometimes it really didn't matter if it was the "greatest" workout in the world, believe me, I have had some pretty forgettable ones, but what counts is how you feel when you walk out that door. I promise you will feel rejuvenated, refreshed and ready to conquer another day because you made the choice to strengthen your body, which simultaneously strengthens your mind.

So the next time you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed and looking at the glass as half empty instead of half full, lace up your shoes and go! The gym, the park, bike trails, your local high school track, there are endless options of ways to redirect your negative energy into a positive outlet and walk away with an optimistic outlook on life.

In good health,

Holly Powell