Exercise for Stress
By Lizzie Nichols
Things are changing in my life. I quit my job and am going to graduate school. This means moving out of my place by the end of the month, storing my furniture for the summer, and figuring out where I’m going to live and how I’m going to support myself when I get back in August. To say I’m a little stressed out is an understatement. I feel completely overwhelmed and a little freaked out by all the change coming at once. “Have you been exercising?” My dad just asked me, as I was explaining how I wasn’t sure how I would get everything done by May 31st. My dad is big on exercising for your mental health. I got off the phone with him and put my shoes on to go for a walk. Just an hour walk around the neighborhood totally changed my mood. I started out practically in tears and got home with a whole new frame of mind. The endorphins must have kicked in.
When we exercise, the brain produces more of these good feeling endorphins. According to this New York Times article, exercise actually restructures our brain to remain calm in stressful situations. This was news to me. I knew about endorphins, but I didn’t know that exercise would actually change the way my brain handled stress. This happens only after exercising regularly for several weeks, but at a certain point, changes do take place in the brain.
Based on my stress level today, I’m going to have to make time for the gym.