Today we have a guest to share a stress buster… Charles Ansorge is my brother and a professor at the University of Nebraska – now retired to Oregon but still teaching on-line classes for the University. He is one of the most health conscious people I know and I asked him to share some thoughts on health, stress, and physical activity. Here is what he has to say,
Get Moving to Manage Stress
A decision to pursue graduate studies spiked the level of stress that I was experiencing when I was younger. I read about ways I might effectively deal with the increased stress due to the pursuit of higher order learning. What I found to be an effective stress buster for me was a daily dose of exercise. Once I found this worked I never looked back. I started out slowly while building up confidence in myself that my choice of finding time each day for exercise would result in a calming effect and also have a very nice by-product—good health.
My choice of exercise to reduce stress was jogging. As someone who turned out to have a career in teaching statistics it’s not surprising that I tracked the amount of daily exercise by recording the mileage run each day. I chose jogging for my stress buster activity because no special equipment was required other than a decent pair of running shoes. I also did not have to depend upon a partner or others to engage me while I exercised. I could run by myself and could do it either outside or inside depending upon the season of the year.
I began running in the 1970s and continued tracking the mileage I ran for over 30 years until reaching a point when I decided I could put away the journal of my personal exercising and simply enjoy the activity. The miles accumulated over the years. Running five days/week for about 30-40 minutes each day and doing it 52 weeks of the year resulted in buying many running shoes and thousands of miles of running. I stopped counting the miles after reaching over 35,000. Yes, I had run around the world once and was making my second trip around when I decided to cease the record keeping.
So why is it that a highly recommended method of controlling stress is exercise? First, it pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.
Second, it’s meditation in motion. After several laps in the pool, a bike ride along a favorite trail, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do.
Third, it improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All this can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.
One important lesson I learned with respect to exercising to reduce stress is in order. Persevering in exercise is not so easily achieved. A Bible verse from James 1:2 may be helpful in achieving the goal of becoming positively addicted to exercising as a way to reduce your stress. “Blessed is the (person) who remains steadfast under trial, for when (they) stand the test (they) will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
Time to get moving.
You can write to Charles Ansorge at firstname.lastname@example.org
Well said, Chuck. He used to say to me that exercise is as important as breakfast or lunch in your day. He is right – he might even say, he is always right but we know that can’t be true. Thanks for reading and thanks to our guest blogger today – excellent.