Find out how exercise can calm the body and mind
Nadia’s personal trainer Kat Stanley shares her exercise tips and how exercise can calm the body and mind.
A study published in Landscape and Urban Planning concluded that people living in wide open, green spaces had lower cortisol levels than those living in urban environments. According to scientists, living closer to nature motivates light exercise, which is the best natural mood-booster as it produces feel-good endorphins.
Exercise calms the body and mind
Exercise reduces our levels of stress hormones, such as adrenaline or cortisol, so it’s important to get your body moving every day. “When we become stressed or anxious, our bodies go into ‘fight or flight mode’, giving a surge of energy and adrenaline – the kind of boost you’d need if you were being chased by a lion,” says Nadia’s personal trainer, Kat Stanley from RedefinedU.
“One of the significant physiological changes that happens when our bodies are under pressure is a spike in our cortisol levels. Prolonged elevation of this regulatory hormone can have harmful effects on the body, such as reduced immune function, depression or anxiety, weight gain through storage of visceral (abdominal) fat, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.” Exercise spurs the production of endorphins, those feel-good hormones that bring about the sensation often referred to as ‘runner’s high’. Increase your endorphin levels and you’ll be on your way to feeling loose, clear-headed and calm.
Kat Stanley’s exercise tips
Kat suggests creating a daily routine by setting aside time to help your body unwind. This could be first thing in the morning before the rest of the family wakes up, on your lunch break or in the evening before or after dinner. Here, she shares her tips for inducing calm through movement.
No matter where you are, take a couple of minutes to stretch each day. My favourite stretch is for the lower back (great if you’ve been sitting at a desk too long, travelling or lugging heavy children around). Lie on your back on a soft surface and hug both of your knees into your chest. Gently rock back and forward, keeping your knees in tight. You can maximise this further by taking one leg down at a time and pulling the other knee flat into the chest with your opposite hand and stretching the other arm out straight, while turning your head towards your outstretched arm. Focus on 10-12 deep breaths in each position.
Go for a brisk walk (or slow jog) in the fresh air
If you’re short on time, head out around the block for three to four minutes in one direction and turn back, taking in your surroundings and letting your mind wander. As little as five minutes of aerobic exercise a day can decrease overall levels of tension, boost your mood, deepen your breathing and improve your quality of sleep.