Exercise is here to help us alleviate stress. So, first let's outline a couple different types of stress.
Types of Stress
Do you ever feel "on edge"? Physiological stress manifests through hyper-activation of the sympathetic nervous system and an elevated hear rate.
This manifests in the form of anxiety and/or erratic behavior. Ever feel overwhelmed or trapped in a decision-making process? Psychological stress will prevent us from thinking clearly and cause us to lack motivation to take action.
Exercise to Relieve Stress
Cardio & Weight Training
Both of these types of exercise allow us to improve our cardiovascular function providing us the ability to better control changes in our heart rate. These training types also alleviate psychological stress through the release of positive chemicals and hormones like endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and testosterone.
Yoga & Stretching
In a very different fashion than above, yoga and stretching can provide similar results. Both activities engage the recovery and regeneration portion of our automatic nervous system. They decrease our heart rate and improve our heart variability by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
Furthermore, yoga and stretching release relaxing chemicals in the body like endorphins and GABA (a neurochemical that activates the parasympathetic nervous system to initiate recovery and regeneration).
Exercise's Role In A Good Night's Sleep
Exercise's impact isn't just limited to the chemical release we just spoke about. Those chemicals, specifically the endorphins triggered during cardio and weight training, increase the physiological pressure to sleep, and your body is more able to achieve restorative sleep at night for additional recovery and regeneration.
Curious if yoga and stretching help you sleep? You betcha they do! The activation of the parasympathetic nervous system through yoga and stretching prepares your body and brain for rest and helps to consolidate sleep through the night.