Exercise to Lose Stress

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November 20, 2013


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Stress can be hazardous to your health. This is not just a vague notion. It is backed by years of medical studies and chronicled treatment responses.

Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress, while the vast majority of doctor’s office visits are tied to ailments or complaints fueled by stress to some degree, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Stress can also play a role in conditions involving headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.

Back or neck pain are two of the most commonly cited reasons for visiting a primary care physician. But, doctors say, the vast majority of these patients can benefit from the proper exercise techniques that physical therapy offers. Then, the patients should be advised to add regular exercise or stretches to their daily routines.

High-impact or vigorous workouts aren’t necessary to accomplish stress reduction.

Yoga-style exercises help reduce levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. And they also stimulate the production of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.

Yoga-style routines are based on the concept that your physical body is meant to move and exercise. This can be done through certain postures, movements and stretches. These sessions systematically work on different parts of the body, toning and loosening muscles, enhancing flexibility of the spine and the joints, and improving blood circulation.

“Rebalancing” the muscles – those that are too tight and those that are too weak – is a key element in relieving pain and the stress that comes from the physical strain and the burdens of stressful living, according Ronald Tolchin, M.D., medical director of the Baptist Center for Spine Care, part of Baptist Health Neuroscience Center.

“Exercise releases natural endorphins that decrease pain,” said Dr. Tolchin. “As your pain goes down, you relax your muscles. Something as simple as stretching can rebalance the muscles by relaxing those that are too taught. When combined with strengthening weak muscles, the body can achieve a proper balance.”

A more complete exercise regimen – one that includes both aerobics and strength-training – is often the treatment for patients with chronically sore back or neck muscles and those with herniated disks. For those unaccustomed to exercise, physical therapy can launch them into healthier lifestyles, Dr. Tolchin said.

“Initially, patients need to break the current cycle of impaired patterns and change their lifestyle through proper therapy and the right techniques,” Dr. Tolchin said.


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