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Stress III 03 - 09 - 2003

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Stress III Good day to you, Today we will elaborate on the “life Science” stress management program. Top of the list is……..Exercise. Exercise is your best friend in combating stress. The value of exercise as a stress reducer is well documented by many researchers. Why should exercise, which is a vigorous activity, have the power to relax us and eliminate stress? The answer is this: Exercise channels the excess energy created by stress into a natural and positive outlet. As we saw earlier, stress causes the sympathetic nervous system to prepare for immediate physical action. The muscles become charged with fuel and the entire metabolism quickens. Unless this excess energy is released through exercise, it can overload and “burn out” the body’s nervous system. If stress becomes habitual and no exercise is taken, then the excess energy is internalised as tension within the muscles. When this occurs, the muscles and tendons themselves shorten and thicken. Excessive connective tissue is deposited and general consolidation of all the tissues occur. In other words, holding in stress and tension has distinctive effects on the muscles of the body. When you exercise vigorously you dispel this muscular energy in a natural and beneficial way. After all, stress produces the “fight-or-flight” reaction. If we can quite literally “run away” from stress by jogging or other forms exercise, then we use the energy created by stress in a constructive manner. People on regular exercise programs tend to be healthier, have a better vital capacity, and in general, can cope with life in a more satisfactory way. Some people have downplayed the importance of exercise in stress reduction. They say that stress is “all in the mind” and the only effective way to combat stress is through mental and emotional avenues. Not true. In research conducted by Richard Driscoll, groups of people who were suffering from high anxiety and personal stress were given four types of treatment. One group simply used visual imagery and imagined themselves relaxed, happy, and free from stress. Another group used only exercise. A third group used only physical relaxation techniques. And the last group combined exercise with a positive program of mental optimism. The group which used exercise in addition to positive thinking had the highest success rate in reducing stress. The groups which did not use exercise programs with their other stress-reducing techniques had a much lower rate of success. The evidence is in: to reduce stress, you must exercise. “ Sure, I use diet to take care of stress. When I get tense, I just stuff my face” The young man laughed, but his overweight figure showed the truth behind the joking. Unfortunately, many people respond to stress by overeating or by indulging in drugs or other destructive habits. To make things worse, the types of foods, usually favoured under stress- ice-cream, sweets, soft drinks, coffee, alcohol, junk foods- have the effect of making us more susceptible to stress and illness. Diet and nutrition play an important role in stress management. By simply avoiding destructive foods and following a wholesome diet, you can withstand normal stressful situations in a cheerful and optimistic fashion. A junk food diet, on the other hand, can make us crumble under the slightest bit of tension. The answer to this question will be answered in the next letter. As always I wish you Health & Tranquillity Elise

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