Sports help fight stress: how it works and what type of training to choose
Physical activity is known to be a great way to reduce stress levels and de-stress emotionally. Let's find out how it actually works and if there are any sports that are the most effective in combating stress.
Exercise helps at the hormone level
In the process of sports in the body actively release endorphins - neurotransmitters of good mood. Daily thirty minutes of physical activity can reduce the level of the stress hormone cortisol and feel calmer for several hours after training.
"Runner's high" - the effect of the release of endorphins caused by physical activity - can be obtained not only from running itself, but also from playing tennis, hiking and even a long walk.
The exercises themselves mimic our natural reaction to stress - fight or flight - which helps reduce the negative effects of its effects on the body.
Helping you focus
Exercise and physical activity allows you to take your mind off everyday sources of stress (mainly the news) and focus entirely on sensation and process. Highly coordinated sports, such as rock climbing, help you forget about external stimuli by keeping your attention focused on the correct execution of movements and the ultimate goal of getting to the top. Game and team sports are exciting due to the sporting excitement and the desire to win.
They help to "blow off steam."
Physical activity can also serve as a way to legally release aggression. Abigail Marsh, professor of psychology at Georgetown University and author of The Fear Factor: How One Emotion Connects Altruists, Psychopaths, and Everyone In Between, calls this technique "a formalized, culturally acceptable form of aggression." He also believes that practicing "aggressive" sports, such as martial arts, helps counteract psychological trauma. However, this effect has a downside: this method of emotional release is contraindicated for people who may be overly aggressive. "If you feel better after hitting something, you'll have a better chance of hitting again [not in training]," says sports psychologist Mitch Abrams.
According to statistics, every fourth person is prone to mental illness, but only 58% of women and 66% of men use sports to relieve stress. Among schoolchildren, only 17% like to exercise. At the same time, it is sport that is one of the most effective and safe methods of emotional release. Complete anaerobic
exercise can relax the nervous system for 90-120 minutes, which is often called post-workout euphoria - we thank ourselves for not being lazy and going to the gym, and stress levels drop.
During physical activity, blood circulation improves, breathing becomes deeper and more intense, and the brain receives more nutrients and oxygen. Often a stressful condition causes tension in the muscles, although many people don't feel it. Moderate physical activity helps to relax the muscles. And most importantly, physical activity increases the production of neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, endorphin) and reduces the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood. This allows a person to relax faster, causes tranquilizing effect, improves mood and self-esteem.
If a person is constantly under stress, then training will be superfluous - to begin with, it is necessary to eliminate the stress factor or reduce its influence. As long as the stress level remains high, it is better to choose something more relaxing - for example, stretching.
There is no more or less effective sport in the fight against stress, you need to listen to yourself and choose the activity that you enjoy more. The choice of sport can also depend on your emotional state. Teamwork and game and team sports are great for sadness. To work with the emotion of anger, sports that help to express it are excellent - for example, archery, capoeira. Even sports that help you work with fear - choose something that helps you push your limits, such as horseback riding or yachting.