Source | LinkedIn : By Ellyn Shook
Over the past year, I’ve been making both macro- and micro-changes to improve the way I work and the way I live. Recommitting to sleep and disconnecting from my devices are two very important adjustments that have changed my life for the better.
But, I needed to work on one area – being more physically active. Given my work and travel schedule, the excuses were easy – I’m too busy, too tired, not able to commit regularly, don’t like gyms … the list goes on. I’m an avid walker but don’t always have time to take an hour-long walk each day.
I have my husband to thank for many things, but his own commitment to exercise inspired me to get moving (pun intended) and make fitness a priority. He introduced me to his trainer, Sean Killelea, owner of S&R Performance, who is also now my trainer. Sean has helped me find a way to bring more movement into my day – which helps me physically and mentally. So, I’ve asked Sean to share some of his insights below for managing stress through exercise and tips that might help you push past the excuses too. Over to you Sean…
Sean’s insights on the science of stress & exercise
I was delighted when Ellyn asked me to contribute to this blog because so many of my executive clients are looking for ways to reduce stress in their lives. When we are under stress, our body reacts by releasing stress hormones – adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol – into our bloodstream. This causes our heart to pound, muscles to tense and breathing to quicken. The first two hormones have their place in appropriately dealing with stress, so that we don’t become ill. However, cortisol release over time can negatively affect our bodies and contribute to hypertension, poor posture and obesity.
As stress builds up over time, our body begins to feel this – many times leading to fatigue or illness. In turn, if our bodies feel better, so will our minds. When we exercise and take part in physical activity, we release chemicals that act as painkillers – called endorphins. Regular exercise can fight feelings of depression and anxiety, improve sleep, lower blood pressure, and decrease body fat – all stress-related conditions many executives struggle with given the pressures of their jobs.
Pushing past the excuses
We know there are many great benefits of resistance and cardiovascular training. However, we need to get out of the mindset that exercise must be long and separate from our day. I work with my clients (many of whom are sedentary – working behind a desk or on planes and in airports) on micro-changes. They don’t require long, one-hour grinds in the gym but instead are “portable” and can be incorporated into the natural flow of their work and home life. Below are some tips to consider: