Work It Out: Your battle against stress begins on the trail and at the gym |

Work It Out: Your battle against stress begins on the trail and at the gym

Trent Johnson
Special to the Daily

People exercise and go to the gym for multiple reasons, from trying to get into better shape to becoming stronger, faster and fitter. Then, there are people who are trying to exercise their way through something in their lives that’s emotionally stressful. Exercise is a great way to stay focused in the moment, but it’s also a great escape: a way to relax through workout pain, from sore muscles to burning lungs.

The body-mind connection

What happens to your body and mind when you exercise? When you are exercising, your heart pumps more blood to all of your muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons, which helps them get fueled for additional active movements.

When you exercise, your muscles tear apart from the stress. The tissue becomes sore and tired as a result and begins to repair.

Your body also goes through a mental transformation, during which dopamine levels in your brain increase to allow for euphoric feelings. This helps your mind and body get through the exercise with little-to-no additional effort. This also allows your brain to relax during exercise. This can burn off all of the stress and other emotional baggage from the day, so both your body and mind recover from stresses that might plague you.

Comfort in routine

A lot of people do not realize why runners, bikers and weight lifters exercise hard five to seven days a week. Most of these people just don’t fully care about any progress or gains these fitness junkies may or may not see.

But, there’s an explanation: A lot of fitness lovers are going to war with the stresses that plague their minds every day. They want to win that war, and so they go to the gym to fight that battle in a healthy way. As a result, they can function better and hopefully feel happier, living a full and healthy life until the battle begins the next day.

These people are also usually motivated to go harder and push farther so they can see how their body survives in reaction to stress they control. It helps their minds prepare to overcome anything that may come their way.

Over time, this battle-through-exercise will become easier and more habitual. This form of exercise can even replace therapy because it allows your brain to work through things by itself, which makes room to tackle other, different issues.

More people should exercise to combat and reduce stress. Once you see and feel the benefits of strong, intense workouts, then you will never want to go back to a lifestyle that doesn’t include a daily battle with the trail, gym or ball field — the stresses you can control.

Trent Johnson is a personal trainer certified through the National Association of Fitness Certifications. As a trainer and runner, he has years of experience training people of all abilities, from high-level athletes to Average Joes who just want to find better fitness.

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