Angela T. Moore: Do Not Get Stressed About Working Out 

I have seen it time and time again: people get really stressed about working out. This is unfortunate because working out should alleviate stress, not cause it! 

In fact, regular physical activity can reduce stress and tension, prevent and/or help manage anxiety and depression as well as improve quality of life and overall well-being. 

Yet, many people will say, “I don’t have enough time to exercise” or “Trying to add exercise into my already busy day is too stressful” or “I am too stressed to work out.” 

Why does working out become stressful? 

I have found four main reasons: 

  1. People tend to make working out more complex than it needs to be. 
  2. There is a tendency to believe that you must do a lot to get big results. 
  3. People exercise to lose weight, not to be healthy. 
  4. People tend to see exercise as something they have to do instead of something they get to do. 

Solutions for stress-free exercise are to: 

  • Remember to keep it simple. 
  • Understand that less is often better than more. 
  • Recognize that losing weight is a benefit of exercise, not the reason to exercise. 
  • Appreciate that exercise is a privilege, not a burden. 

Keep it simple 

There is a tendency to over-complicate workouts. People often feel that they must do a lot of different exercises to get results. While doing different exercises can keep a workout routine fresh and exciting, trying to do too many different exercises can make a workout stressful. The key is to select the best exercises for your desired goal.   

For example, if you are attempting to do a total body dumbbell workout, choose the best dumbbell exercises for each major muscle group — chest press, back row, shoulder press, bicep curl, tricep kickbacks and leg squats. Focus on proper form and technique and complete each exercise with precision. 

Less is often better than more 

It is a commonly thought that for a workout to be effective that an exercise routine has to be long. However, numerous studies have demonstrated that short bouts of activity and shorter workouts can be just as effective as longer workouts.   

Shorter workouts have been proven to be effective for a number of reasons: improved cardiovascular, psychological and physical health; better exercise adherence; and most importantly, reduction in stress. A 10- to 15-minute workout in the morning, after lunch and at the end of the day may be a lot easier to do and less stressful than a 30- to 45-minute workout at the beginning or end of the day. 

Exercise to be healthy 

While losing weight is often the motivation behind starting or maintaining an exercise regimen, being healthy needs to be the motivating factor behind your workout.   

It is important to remember that accomplishing the goal of losing weight does not necessarily mean that you have gained health. Excessive exercise, restrictive dieting and/or food avoidance can all lead to weight loss. 

The motivation to exercise should be to be healthy, with the understanding that weight loss is one of the many benefits of your workout efforts. 

The goal should be to integrate physical activity, short bouts of exercise, or longer structured workouts combined with other healthy lifestyle strategies into your daily life to be healthy. These include consuming a balanced, nutrient-dense and low-calorie eating plan and implementing effective time management techniques for healthy work/life balance.  

When you exercise to be healthy instead of losing weight, you can be motivated by the fact that each time you exercise or workout you are becoming healthier, regardless of what the scale says. 

Exercise is a privilege, not a burden 

Since exercise can be uncomfortable at times, there is a tendency to treat exercise like it’s a chore; something that we have to do instead of something that we get to do. However, for those that are disabled or suffer from limited mobility, movement is something that is fought for each and every day.  

To be able to move freely and especially to exercise is a gift that is not afforded to everyone. I think it is important to be reminded that exercise is a privilege and should not be considered a burden. Whenever given the opportunity to exercise, workout or simply move, we should do so with a spirit of gratitude. 

So, the next time you think about working out, don’t get stressed, get excited!  Remember working out is not something that you have to do, it is something that you get to do!   

Opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan or its subsidiaries and affiliates. 

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Photo credit: Getty Images

 

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