Keeping your Calm with Fitness
by Roseanna Frechette
In stressful times, wise people know they need to work out. We are a stressed out nation; but ironically our fitness choices may be adding to our stress. If you’ve ever had a high intensity workout that stayed in hyper mode while racing against the clock and foregoing a good stretch cool down, you may know what it feels like to walk out of a work out with more agitation and/or stress than you walked into it with.
Thankfully it will always be true that fitness practices can de-stress us and lead us into a centering calm. We can always exercise freedom of choice when answering this question: Will I benefit from the chance to de-stress through my workouts or not?
According to natural life scientist Peter Ragnar in the May-July ’08 issue of What is Enlightenment Magazine, “Exercise is the greatest alternative when the bells and whistles of your body signal fight-or-flight reactions to stressful stimuli. This is because exercise normalizes brain chemistry and calms your nerves by releasing endorphins. And that means you don’t have to crack the cap on those medications so many people take to combat anxiety and depression.”
So how do we calm ourselves with fitness? The following checklist provides a few tips: By pacing ourselves; Realizing that some is better than none; Choosing exercise we can truly enjoy; Taking a few rest breaks in each session and ending with a short relaxation; Realizing the many ways to exercise at home rather than always getting into a car and fighting the drive in order to be fit; Applying breath that is full, deep and even while staying mindful of what we’re doing while doing it.
Health studies show that any exercise is better than none. Even the virtual exercise game on Nintendo’s Wii has been examined by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and come out with a positive evaluation because it causes people to get up and move. In the same study, ACE provides this alarming statistic: “people in this country now spend an average of 19-25 hours per week watching TV and playing video games.”
Some of us can remember a time when technology wasn’t adding to our stress and children were encouraged to play outdoors after school. Adults were more physically active in the day-to-day business of survival, making a home, and being social in their communities. Perhaps the same needs for keeping calm through fitness weren’t such an issue back then.
But this is now, and we need to keep our calm more than ever. We can choose to calm ourselves with fitness, and every little bit of joyfully moving counts. Why not start now with some slow, deep breaths or a walk around the block? You might even make your way to The Oxford Club to explore some great options for calming yourself while increasing your fitness levels today!
Roseanna Frechette is Yoga Director and Business Development Rep for The Oxford Club, 1616 17th Street in LoDo; 303-628-5522; oxfordclubspa.com. This article first appeared in The Downtown Denver News, LoDo.