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Exercise and Stress:
Does Your Current Exercise Practice Increase Or Decrease Your Stress?
by Sheldon Ginsberg C.S.C.S.

At this point, we all know the purpose of exercise is to improve our physical health through activities that strengthen our bodies. As time has passed, our ability to exercise with greater efficiency has been enhanced as our understanding of how and why exercise produces health in our bodies has expanded. This enhancement has produced our current exercise procedures that are designed to help maximize our efforts and therefore hasten our results.

(Article continued below.)

As a fitness professional with over ten years in the health field, I believe the "science" of exercise has created another worrisome (and unnecessary) "checklist" to add to our already overly burdened lives.

Now, the average health enthusiast spends a great deal of their energy and time concerned with: counting calories, whether this exercise is the "best" exercise, what is the "right" number of reps and sets and how can I get the "maximum exercise benefits" in the least amount of time.

Of course, let's not forget that a great many of us are motivated to not only exercise for health reasons but also because of: the fear of being overweight, the fear of not fitting in and the fear of not looking good.

Additionally, exercise itself is a physical stress. The traditional "no pain, no gain" philosophy is based upon pushing ourselves past our physical comfort zones in order to decrease body fat while increasing lean muscle mass. The very nature of this philosophy produces more physical discomfort than it does physical pleasure.

A simple health rule is that painful experiences cause our bodies to close down (leading to aches, pains and eventually dis-ease) while pleasurable experiences helps the body to open improving balance and health.

With all this stress associated with exercise I believe our focus has shifted from improving the way we use and live in our bodies to worrying if we are exercising "correctly." This has left us little room to enjoy this process of getting to know our bodies better.

However, this philosophy may not be healthy for you if:

  1. Each day your body is under significant amounts of mental and physical stress. This unreleased stress eventually evolves into physical discomforts, aches and pains. This can prevent you from moving freely and thinking clearly.
  2. You find the process of exercise to be painful or boring. If during exercise you find your body tightens even more, then all you are doing is deepening a negative or unpleasant association between your body, exercise and stress.

Body and mind associations are very powerful and long lasting. How you have digested past body experiences dictates your current body image. Positive life experiences created positive body images while negative life experiences created negative body images.

Next page >> The Solution to this Treadmill of Stress

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