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How exercise can help to reduce workplace stress

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How exercise can help to reduce workplace stress

For many of us, work is one of the most stressful parts of our day-to-day lives - and while this makes sense, it doesn’t have to be something we simply accept.

Here at doppel , we speak to a lot of customers (doppelgängers!) who use their doppel much more in the week than at the weekend.

There are a huge variety of fantastic tools to reduce stress, but in this blog post we’re focusing on the role that exercise can play.

Studies show that exercise improves mental wellbeing

An increasing number of studies show that exercising can reduce stress and anxiety. Harvard Health Publishing reports that exercise has been successfully used to treat anxiety disorders and clinical depression in verified clinical trials, and that similar benefits are common among endurance athletes.

A study of 20,000 adults in Scotland published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine also found that the more strenuous and frequent the activity, the greater the effect on mental health. The researchers concluded that as little as twenty minutes of activity per day improved the mental health of participants, but that the more exercise they did, the better the outcome.

But why is this?

Harvard Health Publishing explain exactly what’s going on in the brain when you work out:

“The mental benefits of aerobic exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body's stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators.”

Endorphins are responsible for the feelings of relaxation and optimism that you experience at the end of a hard workout.

CNN spoke to J. Kip Matthews, Ph.D., a sport and exercise psychologist, who explains that when you exercise, your brain increases production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin which send messages throughout your nervous system.

In the case of exercise, those messages might be something along the lines of: "You're running! This is awesome! Cheer up!"

So in the short term, running at the end of a busy day - or even at lunchtime - can help to reduce stress.

Over time, exercise helps you practice your ‘stress response’

The American Psychological Association reports that some psychologists have begun looking at how exercise improves the body’s ability to respond to stress when it arises. This means that the more exercise you do, the more resilient to new stress you would become.

“Biologically, exercise seems to give the body a chance to practice dealing with stress. Exercise forces the body's physiological systems — all of which are involved in the stress response — to communicate much more closely than usual.”

Work is something that can constantly throw new challenges your way, but maintaining a regular exercise schedule is something that can help you get through new stressful situations.

Better sleep for better mental wellbeing

We all know that sleep is good for you, but sometimes it’s hard to switch off. It may seem obvious but exercise makes you tired, and this in turn contributes to a more restful night's sleep. And a better night’s sleep helps to alleviate stress.

Just look at this graph showing the difference in stress levels between adults who sleep for more than eight hours a night, and adults who get less than this

Source: APA via Statistica

For many of us, workplace stress is unavoidable. As a result, it’s good to have as many tools as possible available to you to help manage it. Exercise is something that can help both in the moment and over time so we think it’s definitely worth considering as an option.

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