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Why Exercise Is Essential to Manage Stress and Improve Health

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There are more certainties in life than just death and taxes, and stress is one of them.  

Everyone has moments of stress in their lives, but we need to be mindful of what stress is doing to our bodies. Too much or uncontrolled stress can not only leave you feeling frustrated and anxious, but physically unhealthy as well. Given the impact stress can have on your body, both physically and emotionally, managing stress is a component of Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper's 8 Steps to Get Cooperized.

The Science of Stress
Stress has a physical impact on your body, according to Carla Sottovia, PhD, Director of Personal Training Education at Cooper Fitness Center. Stress can raise blood pressure and resting heart rate, increase cortisol levels and lead to weight gain.

"All those things combined or even each one separately could be a major cause of cardiovascular disease," says Sottovia. And, too much stress can affect your sleep, which can also plague you with health problems. Insufficient sleep can leave you groggy, cranky and lacking the energy you need to push you through your day. When you're overtired, you feel even less likely to work out and get your daily physical activity.

And if you're a type A personality—high-energy, controlling, fast-paced, high-stress—you're at an increased risk for suffering a heart attack or developing cardiovascular disease.

The Danger of Stress
"Stress is part of life," says Kenneth Cooper, MD, MPH, Founder and Chairman of Cooper Aerobics. Stress can increase your chance of suffering a heart attack and pose a serious threat to your health. But, "it's not stress that kills, it's the way you handle it," Dr. Cooper notes.

Exercise as Stress Relief
Dr. Cooper recommends exercise as the best way to manage stress—although other stress management techniques, such as meditation, can also help. "I've been able to control stress in my life by exercising at the end of the day," he adds.

Sottovia seconds the importance of exercise in managing stress. “If you can push yourself out of the vicious cycle of stress, fatigue and inactivity, you'll find that exercise is one of the best remedies for stress,” says Sottovia.

Walk, run, bike or do yoga—whatever you enjoy to burn off stress and get your endorphins going to help yourself feel better. Don't let fretting about exercise become yet another daily stressor—make it something that you look forward to. You can also treat yourself to soothing music, practice guided imagery or spend quiet time relaxing in nature to help relieve stress.

Once you push yourself to exercise, your mind and body will start to feel better. With regular exercise, you may find that your blood pressure and resting heart rate improve, you lose weight and have more energy.

To manage stress, it's important "to find that balance in work and family," says Sottovia. "When you focus just on one thing, everything else gets neglected."

To learn more about how to Get Cooperized, click here or call 972.560.2667.

Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.