Should I Work Out When I'm Under a Lot of Stress?

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A serious sweat session can help you unwind after a long, harrowing day — but when those long days (and weeks) are severely stress-inducing, where’s your energy to get moving?

If you’re not on a habitual gym schedule, you might not have much. In fact, your first instinct following a mentally traumatizing day might be a long snooze, a tall glass of whine or a night on the town.

On those long and excruciating days, what’s your absolute best bet for loosening up?

Impacts of Force on Exercise

Quite surprisingly, many studies suggest that stress can negatively affect physical performance. But maybe that’s not a surprise after all, as we already know it zaps energy, fatigues muscles and distracts the brain — and quite honestly, that’s not even the half of it.

Those same health consequences also carry over into the fitness realm. Chronic, prolonged stress, if left unaddressed for too much time, can impair the brain’s working memory and motor coordination, plummet concentration levels and slow exercise recovery.

If you’re only half invested in your workout, you’re not capitalizing on many fitness benefits. However, experts have great suggestions to help you harness stress, outsmart its repercussions and reap the rewards of a successful sweat session.

Exercise to Combat Stress, Stay Calm and Grow Confidence

All of this brings us back to common (and actually most evident) advice regarding exercise for stress management: it does work. And it'll help with other areas of your life, too:

  • Boost your mood by releasing powerful endorphins
  • Increase your time levels and fight fatigue
  • Reduce your risk for chronic disease
  • Enhance relaxation some time and get better sleep
  • Grow, strengthen and repair muscle tissue
  • Gain confidence and improve concentration

The better you get at sticking to your workout goals (yes — even when it’s the LAST thing you want to do today), odds are you’ll start to see chronic stress drain or disappear.

To help combat some of the physical effects of stress briefly listed above, remember to incorporate other stress-busting techniques beyond exercise into your daily/weekly routine. Practice self-care often, fuel-up with balanced nutrition, meditate and take care of your body.

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