“Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.”
— Hans Selye
- A lot of us binge-eat in stress. After a stressful day at work, a bar of chocolate or a bag full of chips is the usual go-to food for de-stressing. However, instead of exposing yourself to this double whammy of sugar and fats, is there a healthy way to combat stress?
- Exercise is one of the better ways of dealing with stress. Practically, all forms of exercise are helpful as stress relievers. Just getting up and taking a walk is also an effective way to reduce stress.
- Weight training (also known as strength training or resistance training) is one such effective workout to blow off some steam. Not only do you get buff arms and tight abs with weight training, it can also help you deal with problems such as anxiety and depression.
How does weight training reduce stress?
- Increases endurance: Weight training helps build endurance by exercising a muscle group against external resistance.
- Relaxes muscles: Stress can cause tense and tight muscles. Weight training focuses on strengthening the muscles, which releases the tension and relaxes the body.
- Keeps anxiety from escalating: Some people experience anxiety sensitivity, i.e., fear of the behaviours or physical sensation caused by anxiety. For example, they might believe that an anxiously beating heart is the sign of a heart attack. Such feelings intensify the anxiety, and the person begins to fear situations that set off their anxiety and the sensation brought about by the stress.
- During weight training, moderate-intensity exercise makes it a little difficult to breathe than normal, elevates the heart rate and increases sweating. This sensation mimics anxiety and prepares the body to fight against such situations in the future.
- Affects chemicals in the brain: Regular exercise such as weight training reduces adrenaline and cortisol, the body’s stress hormones and releases chemicals such as endorphins that elevate the mood and act as a natural painkiller. Endorphins give you a relaxed feeling and calm your emotional stress.
- Builds positivity: Weight training not only gives you a shrinking waistline but also builds up your self-esteem and confidence and gives you a sense of pride. It burns calories and helps you achieve your set weight loss goals. The renewed vigour and energy you get out of weight training will go a long way towards achieving wondrous things at work too.
- Improves sleep cycle: Many times, anxiety and depression affect the sleep pattern of a person. Lifting weights on a daily basis will improve the sleep cycle and help you stay fresh for the day.
- Reduces effects of stress on the body: Weight training also regulates the functions of the body, reduces blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels and decreases high blood sugar levels. This cuts the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and also helps in managing osteoporosis.
Some weight training exercises for beginners are as follow:
- Chest press: Chest press is a full body exercise. It helps in gaining upper body strength and muscle mass. The steps for performing a chest press are as follows:
- Lie on a bench on the bench press machine with your eyes under the bar.
- Grab the bar with thumbs around the bar (medium grip-width).
- Straighten your arms and lift the bar from the rack.
- Lower the bar to mid-chest.
- Again, raise the bar up until your arms are straight.
- Place the bar back on the rack and relax for a few seconds.
- Repeat the exercise.
- Shoulder press: Shoulder press focuses on strengthening the arm and shoulder muscles. The steps for performing a shoulder press are as follows:
- Sit upright on a bench holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- Hold the dumbbells at shoulder height with your palms facing forward.
- Look in front of you and slowly lift the dumbbells until your arms are straight.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells again to the original position.
- After the procedure, lower your hands and relax for a while.
- Arm curl: Arm curls target the upper arm muscles. The steps for an arm curl are as follows:
- Stand straight with a shoulder-width distance between your feet.
- Hold the weights in your hands with both hands straight by your side, palms facing forward.
- Take a deep breath and breathe out slowly as you lift the weights and bend your elbows.
- Hold position for a few seconds and breathe in while slowly lowering the weights.
- Repeat for the next 10 to 15 minutes and take rest after the procedure.
- The next time you are stressed, instead of crashing on the couch, pump some iron and relax your mind! To know more about stress management, contact our expert therapists who will guide you with a suitable way to combat stress. Get a stress test done from your nearby laboratory by using our HealthAssure app.
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