For many people April is an emotionally taxing month, as we feel mounting pressure to get our IRS returns completed and submitted on time.
It may not be a coincidence that April is also the National Stress Awareness Month, during which light is shed on dangers of unmanaged stress, as well as successful coping strategies.
“The last-minute scramble to file tax returns puts a lot of people under enormous pressure,” said Anthony Adedipe, a personal trainer at Dungeon Fitness in El Dorado Hills, CA. “And research shows that stress, anxiety and tension can cause a host of serious medical conditions such high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and depression.”
Adedipe says research also demonstrates that physical activity is a great tension reducer and mood elevator. “Nothing eases stress better than exercise,” he noted.
In fact, exercise reduces stress in a number of different ways.
“It releases endorphins, chemical substances known as ‘feel good’ hormones,” Adedipe explained. “Also, bouts of physical activity reduce or eliminate altogether any discomfort associated with muscular tension brought on by stress. And, exercise keeps you energized, which prevents mood slumps. So it is all good!”
An added benefit, Adedipe said, is that while you work out you are focused on your routine, not on whatever problems and frustrations cause your stress. “In that way, exercise helps put your mind at rest. Your attention is on a pleasant and healthy activity, not on taxes, bills, work problems, or whatever else is worrying you.”
What exercises are the best stress busters?
“Generally speaking, any activity that releases built-up tension in the bodywhile promoting overall health, will be beneficial,” Adedipe says. “A fitness professional can show you some effective, stress-reducing techniques.”
Three exercises that could be included in your routine are:
Deep breathing. This is a good stress reliever. It increases your energy levels and relaxes your muscles. Breathing exercises are especially useful because you can do them anywhere, anytime.
Stretching exercises. When you’re stressed your muscles contract, causing aches around your neck, shoulders and back. Stretching exercises will increase blood flow and relax these tight muscles.
Circuit or high-intensity interval training. Alternate bursts of activity with short rests in between and you will improve your mood by quickly pumping up your endorphin levels.
“Remember: stress is dangerous to your health, and not just around tax time,” Adedipe said. “Incorporate stress and tension-reducing exercises into your regular routine all year long.”
Launched by fitness expert Anthony Adedipe in January 2011, Dungeon Fitness is a co-ed personal training fitness program that specializes in the areas of weight loss, athletic training and bootcamp style training. Adedipe, a certified fitness expert with 10 years experience in the fitness industry and a former Pac 10 football player for Washington State, can be reached at [email protected] or (916) 256-6526.