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How do you deal with stress in your life?

One thing we know for sure is that everyone has stress in their life. And if you are trying to eliminate it, you are going to be stressed. I like to refer to my stressful situations as challenges. Everyone deals with challenges and it’s a matter of how are you dealing with them.

Of course, most of you have heard that exercise helps you deal with stress/ challenges. It releases endorphins and it helps to lower your blood pressure, cholesterol.

It can make you feel you less anxious. Tests have shown that exercise has shown a decrease in electrical activity of tensed muscles. People have been less hyper and tense after an exercise session (definitely a big one for me).

Exercise can relax you — about an hour of exercise can give you 90 to 120 minutes of relaxation response. Endorphins and neurotransmitters make you feel good after exercise, improving your mood and leaving you feeling relaxed.

Exercise can also make you feel better about yourself. Even when you don’t want to exercise because you feel tired and/or had a stressful (challenging) day at work, when you do exercise, you feel great afterwards. If you have not tried it, I challenge you to try it and see how you feel.

Exercise can make you also eat better. Many studies have shown that people who exercise make better choices when eating. And, of course, a nutritious diet will help you feel better and help you manage your stress/challenges better.

Aerobic activity, yoga-type exercises and recreational sports are things which can get you started to help you feel better. But ultimately you just need to do it because it really benefits your health. Many people have no problem taking medication for various problems (and many medications are very much needed). But, when a doctor or health care professional tells them they need to exercise, all kinds of reasons will come up why they can’t. As I have mentioned before, I don’t expect you to become a fitness expert. But, I do feel that many times, we play a big part in being healthy or unhealthy. Exercise should not add stress into your life, such as setting the goals too high or going from nothing to everything. With my cervical (neck) fusion coming up, I have found that my exercise regime has suffered tremendously, and the challenges have increased. My typical blood pressure is about 110 over 70. Now its running 122 over 80 or even 85. I know pain has a lot to do with it, but also being out of my usual exercise routine that helps me manage my everyday challenges (even that I still exercise every day) has a lot to do with it. As you know, I exercise every day, but for some reason, running is one of the only exercises which helps me to clear my head. During my runs, I am able to categorize my challenges and many times come up with solutions, and sometimes a solution is acceptance.

This Friday is my surgery at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center, and it can’t come soon enough. I know Dr. Roy and his staff will take excellent care of me as I have had other surgeries there and have had great experiences. I am ready to get my life back. I am ready to take on this challenge and conquer it!

Until soon!

Ester H Marsh ACSM Cpt

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