Little Rock (KATV) — Stress is an inevitable part of life.
At healthy levels, stress can be positive and help motivate us to improve and grow. However, if stress begins to feel intolerable and stressors (work, kids, environmental stressors) cannot be reduced, the way we cope with stress can greatly impact our mental health and physical wellbeing.
We caught up with Lisa T. Jansen, Ph.D. with the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center to discuss stress and how to cope with it.
Jansen says one effective way to cope with stress is through exercise.
Numerous studies have shown that regular physical activity can not only improve our mood, but also reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, making it an effective and accessible way to manage stress.
From a physiological point of view, exercise helps in reducing cortisol levels, a hormone that is released during times of stress, while increasing endorphins, also known as “feel-good” hormones.
Exercise also help in improving overall physical health and lowering the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
There are many types of exercise that can help reduce stress levels.
- Cardiovascular activities, e.g.: running, cycling, swimming
- Mind-body practices: yoga and other mediation incorporating practices like qigong, tai chi. These exercises incorporate deep breathing and relaxation techniques that can help calm mind and body, thereby reducing stress levels.
Regardless of the type of exercise chosen, it is important to engage in physical activity regularly.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Center for Disease Control recommend that Adults 18-65 should participate in moderate intensity aerobic activity (brisk walking, light dancing) for a minimum of 30-min on 5 days per week (150 min / week) or vigorous intensity aerobic exercise for a minimum of 20-min on 3 days per week (60 min / week).
Children ages 3 – 5 (pre-school ages):
-Should be active throughout the day to enhance growth and development.
-Active play (light, moderate, or vigorous intensity) for at least 3 hours per day.
Youth ages 6 – 17:
-At least 60-min of moderate-to-vigorous activity to attain the most health benefits for physical activity.
-Walking, running, anything that makes the heart beat faster
-Muscle and bone strengthening activities such as climbing, access to playground equipment, playing basketball and jumping rope should also be incorporated.
April is Stress Awareness Month.