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Exercise and Stress

Is Stress Ruining Your Health? Learn How Exercise Helps Counteract the Effects of Stress


Or How Relieving Stress by Exercise is the Best Stress Management Exercise

I cannot stress health issues enough when it comes to bullying. Many are surprised by how damaging bullying can be to not only mental and emotional well being but to your physical health. Stress is the culprit that affects your health in a myriad of ways.

About 1500 events occur in your body due to the stress response from the release of neurotransmitters, metabolization of nutrients to the realease of hormones including cortisol the so-called "stress hormone". While this incredibly powerful and finely tuned reaction is great for dealing with physical threats it's not so great for dealing with psycho-social threats such as bullying.

In our modern world most stress arises from situations that are not physical in nature and a literal fight or flight response would be inappropriate (even illegal). The problem is that your body doesn't know this and continues to prepare you to do battle or run for your life.

Exercise and Stress: Simulating the Response to Threats

This is why exercise is so effective at dealing with stress. Exercise allows you to simulate the physical response to the threat that your body has prepared you for. Your body won't know that you just ran on a treadmill and there wasn't really a saber-toothed tiger chasing you.

Exercise and Stress

Exercise is probably the most effective method of stress management. The main reason for this is that stress is essentially a physical response. It is the "fight or flight" mechanism that prepares us to deal with physical threats in our environment by triggering a multitude of events in our bodies. The stress - health connection is undeniable.


Bullying can provoke feelings of intense fear. Fear of physical assualt, social humiliation, being ostracised, losing your mind and financial ruin.

This fear gives rise to frustration, a feeling of helplessness and intense anger. You may have seen or experienced this transition from fear to anger and it can sometimes happen in an instant.

Imagine you are driving along a road when suddenly another driver cuts you off and almost causes an accident. Your first response is fear. Your car will be damaged, your insurance rates will skyrocket, you could be injured or even killed! Moments later anger takes over and can lead to the extreme reaction of road rage.

Exercise and Stress: Anger Management

However, anger due to bullying is ongoing and can keep you at a slow boil. Repressing these feelings of anger has a negative impact on your mental and physical health. Releasing these aggressive and hostile feelings with vigorous exercise is good for your health but it also helps ensure that these feelings aren't expressed in inappropriate ways, perhaps while at work.

This is a trap that targets of bullying often fall into. The anger that has been simmering eventually squeaks out and you say or do somethng inappropriate at work.

Even though the bullying has gone on for months or years with nothing being done, management (and bullies) will seize the opportunity to turn the tables on you and make you out to be the real troublemaker. Dealing with your anger through exercise is by far the better alternative.

Exercise and Stress: Release Muscle Tension

  Exercise and Stress - Spring Ride on Sulphur Springs
  Spring Ride on Sulphur Springs - Claudette Losier

Anger and stress also results in muscle tension. You may have noticed your muscles tightening to the point where you felt your whole body was rigid due to the stress of bullying. Neck, shoulders, arms and back are especially stiff and this can lead to more agitation because of the muscle, joint and headache pain. It becomes a vicious cycle.

You can break that cycle with exercise to relax your muscles and increase range of motion. Take occasional breaks and stretch the affected muscle groups.

Exercise and Stress: Raise Endorphin Levels

Besides being good for you, exercise feels good. Endorphin levels rise in response to exercise. Endorphins are opiate like compounds that have pain relieving and mood enhancing qualities.

These positve chemical effects of exercise on your body and state of mind lead some to suggest that exercise may be of more benefit to those suffering from depression than anti-depressant medication or therapy.

But it's more than just the endorphines that help you to feel better when you exercise. Self esteem usually takes a beating when you are the target of prolonged abuse from bullying.

Exercise and Stress: Boost Your Self Esteem

Exercise helps to improve your self esteem in a number of ways. The most obvious is that you will be in better shape, slimmer and trimmer. This helps to improve your body image and feel better about yourself and your social acceptance by others.

By being in better shape you will simply be better able to cope with higher levels of stress. This also improves your self esteem because you will feel more capable and less vulnerable to challenges that you are faced with. This boost in confidence will also make you less prone to worrying and anxiety.

Just doing something good for yourself sets you up to feel more positive. You are treating yourself right because you deserve to be treated well - in spite of what bullies say to the contrary. It is essential to reinforce this sense of self respect and not play into the idea that you are unworthy. You deserve to be happy, healthy and fit.

Exercise and Stress: Strengthen Your Social Network

Exercise is also a great way to have fun and get together with friends and family. Going swimming or bike riding or playing a team sport is a great way to connect socially. When overwhelmed by bullying it is easy to sometimes forget that social situations can be a good thing. It is also easy to obsess about the bully and let healthy pastimes slide.

Playing sports or participating in physical recreational activities like golf or bowling is an important way of maintaining our social support networks. Give yourself a break from the bully. - Exercise and Stress
Cristina Nichitus

Exercise and Stress: Get That "Winning" Feeling

Bullying can make you feel like the cards are stacked against you. Your self esteem will also benefit from the sense of accomplishment that exercise and competitive sports can bring. Whether you beat your own personal best or win in a team sport it helps to give you that sense of achievement and success that bullying can drain you of.

Besides it's good to get out and get some human contact. Just being around other people and having physical contact can help to improve your well being and sese of connectedness. Have some fun, take your mind off of bullying, and getting some exercise all works together to help you reduce stress and feel like a human being again.

Exercise and Stress: Get a Good Nights Rest

After a day of exercise you will also sleep better. Stress and anxiety can interfere with a good nights rest. Being fatigued from lack of sleep will make you more vulnerable to emotional outbursts at work that, as we mentioned, will be used against you by bullies.

You are also more likely to make unnecessary mistakes that could, again, be used as ammunition by the bully to create further problems for you. Better to get a good workout and sleep soundly so you are fresh and ready to meet any challenges with a clear head.

If you are having problems sleeping you can find out more about sleep disorders and sleep aids at

Exercise and Stress: Boost Your Immune System

Once you've gotten into a routine of exercising regularly you will also benefit from an improved immune system and be able to fend off illness. If you let yourself get mentally and physically run down you will be more prone to catching every bug that's going around.

If you are already barely able to deal with going in to work the added insult to your immune system by stress will likely result in your having to take sick leave. This can be the beginning of the end of your job.

Managers will not like you missing work and co-workers who are left to take up the slack often begin to resent you. This just plays into the bully's hands and while you are off sick the bully is hard at work bad-mouthing you to everyone who will listen. Exercise can help you stay healthy so you can have a better chance at keeping your job.

Exercise and Stress: Slow But Steady Wins The Race

Before you jump into an exercise program be sure to check with your doctor and don't over do it.

You want to find a way of exercising that is enjoyable. Don't beat yourself up if your progress is slower than you want or your golf score is higher than you would like. Try to balance aerobic and strength training. Getting your heart rate up doing calming exercises like riding a bike or jogging is almost meditative and can help to reduce aggression.

Anaerobic exercise, like weight training, can boost your sense of power but you don't want to get carried away. Stay focused on the positive and fun aspects of your exercise program and try not to put undue pressure on yourself to compete to avoid becoming frustrated or obsessive.  

Sleep Aid Guide
Get the information you need about sleep aids, herbal sleep remedies, relaxation techniques, over the counter and prescription sleep medications and much more. Sleep well again.


For further information about exercise and stress:

Optimal Health Concepts
Providing health promotion services to businesses, educational institutions and individuals. Specializing in Stress Management Consulting, Worksite Health Promotion Planning and Evaluation and Health, Motivation and Performance Enhancement.


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