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Stress Management Exercise Training

from: Jim Holden - Staff Writer

Stress management is as much a physical issue as a psychological concern. This is why stress management experts and therapists often tell their clients to engage in an exercise training program to help boost the benefits that are brought about by counselling. Most people who suffer from extreme stress complain about having sluggish and weak bodily functions, and find themselves unable to perform at their fullest extent.

Assuming you have determined you’re a candidate for exercise, how do begin then? Slowly! If you have been sedentary, a good way to begin is by walking. Walking can be quite enjoyable when you notice the surroundings – the foliage, the sounds, the buildings, the people, etc. If you walk briskly, it can also be good exercise. You will eventually feel better, your body will be more limber and you will feel less stressed.

Keep in mind when beginning a stress management exercise training program, that exercise trains and that too much exercise strains. This means you must work at a pace and level that is comfortable for you. If you go overboard, chances are, you will feel more stressed than ever before. Do you exercise at a pace and with a frequency that makes it healthy and fun rather than harmful? Have a fun run, not a strain and pain.

You need not be a marathoner to derive the benefits of a stress management exercise training program. In fact, researches have shown that physical activity of moderate nature for thirty to forty minutes a day provides numerous health benefits. By ‘moderate’, we refer to activities like gardening, brisk walking, bicycling, and working around the house.

Since physical activity requires a focus of attention on the activity itself, you cannot be thinking about your stressors and hassles. This is a form of selective awareness.

Of course, more strenuous exercise can result in even greater benefits. For strenuous exercise to have a beneficial cardiovascular effect, it should be done with the heart rate raised to 60% to 80% of its maximum.

For instance, if you are 30 years old, your maximal heart rate is 190 beats per minute. You should pattern your training program, therefore, so that your heart is beating between 60% and 80% of 190, or between 114 and 152 beats per minute, or what can be called your target heart rate.

For a training effect to occur, you should exercise twenty to thirty minutes for three or four days each week. Since cardiorespiratory endurance decreases after forty-eight hours, you should make sure to exercise at least every other day. You might want to schedule your exercise as you do other events in your life. In this way, you might view it as a commitment and be more apt to do the exercise, rather than assuming you’ll exercise when you have the time and finding yourself continually postponing it.

Everyone can benefit from stress management training and alleviate stress by exercise, even in spite of barriers, such as lack of time, low level of fitness, and physical challenges. To be able to properly assess how your body responds to certain types of exercise, learn to listen to it. The following may be signs of overtraining and may indicate you should cut down on your exercise routine.

- soreness in muscles and joints
- heaviness in arms and legs
- inability to relax
- persistent tiredness
- loss of appetite
- loss of weight
- constipation or diarrhea
- repeated injury

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, testing should precede any kind of exercise program. It recommends that, for individuals who are younger than forty-five and apparently healthy and for individuals younger than thirty-five with some risk factors but no symptoms of disease, a stress test is unnecessary. However, those over forty-five, those with some symptoms of disease (cardiac, metabolic, pulmonary), and those actually having one of these types of diseases should be given a stress test before they begin an stress management training program.

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