I recently sold my home, packed my entire family of six up, and moved to a new town. My first night in my new home I tossed and turned. I woke up with a stiff neck, and a wicked headache. Writing it off as the stress of moving, I kept going. Still, I woke up morning after morning feeling worse and worse, no amount of sleep, rest, or icy hot was helping. My mother had a suggestion, get moving. My first reaction was; I am not sleeping, and riddled with pain and you want me to exercise? Have you gone mad? She gently pushed me, just take a walk before bed, 30 minutes is all she asked.
That night, at 10:30, after everyone was in bed, I took her advice and while yawning, I pulled on my tennis shoes. While I was walking I focused on taking deep breaths, and letting go of the stress of the day. By the time I got home my neck had loosened up, and that night was the best night's sleep I had in months.
When you are exposed to stress, whether mental, physical or emotional, it can take a toll on your body. Everyone experiences stress in their daily lives, but too much stress can cause long-term problems, according to the Mayo Clinic, including:
Memory and concentration problems
No one wants to feel miserable all the time. And though a little exercise can't cure all your problems or take away all your stress, it can become a healthy coping method. It can sooth you when you are feeling anxiety.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started on your quest to get moving and beat stress
Take it slow
It's always a good idea to consult your doctor before starting an exercise regime. If the last tennis shoes you donned were in your high school fitness class, or you're not even sure you own gym socks, you're not alone. There is no better time to start than the present, but start slow. Take a walk, enjoy the fresh air. Even if all you can manage is down the street and back.
Make it your own and something you love
Some people love walking with friends, some alone. I love walking, or running, with a book on CD. Mom loves rock and roll. Yes, someday I'll upgrade to an iPod, but I love my little fanny pack player. So load up your Walkman, CD player or iPod with inspirational music, books or anything else you love, and move. If you have an inner dancer, maybe a Zumba class is for you. If you don't have rhythm but love the outdoors, a bike with a trailer for the kids might be your style. Here is another great article explaining how to start an exercise regime and love it.
Research by Psychology Today found that exercising with a friend, "improved the stress-reducing benefits of exercise, specifically by increasing calmness after exercising with someone compared with exercising alone." Their research showed it didn't matter if you talked during exercise or not. Knowing that your friend is standing on a corner in the morning waiting for you to walk with her can motivate you to be consistent. Working out with a spouse creates a low-cost positive activity and time to connect.
Variety keeps life exciting
Find two or three things you love to do and rotate them. Variety keeps you from getting bored and working the same muscles day in and day out. Maybe Saturday is the family bike ride, while Wednesday at the community center you can swim with friends.
Slowly gather equipment
Slowly collect things that make it easy for you to get out and work out. Keep your gear together and ready to go. If someone asks what you want for a gift, surprise them and ask for five pound dumbbells or yoga mat. There are many free and low-cost resources. Your community center may have low-cost classes and offer equipment. There are yoga and other exercise videos on YouTube. For example try Beginning Yoga with Tara Styles on Livestrong women.
The benefits of getting up and getting going include