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Relieve Stress and Improve Health

Relax and Renew

A great tool for relieving stress is exercise. No surprise there for those of us who are already using it, but combined with yoga or deep stretching and breathing, it's even more powerful.

Researchers at HG SMS Hospital in Jaipur, India presented their findings in October at the 8th Emirates Cardiac Society Congress in collaboration with the American College of Cardiology Middle East Conference in Dubai.

After recruiting 750 obese heart patients with Type 2 diabetes, the team divided them into three groups. One participated in an aerobic exercise program, another practiced yoga, and the third did both. All of the volunteers enjoyed improvements in blood pressure, BMI and cholesterol, as well as other key measures.

But the group that combined yoga and aerobics improved twice as much as the other two.

It makes sense combining the two practices. Aerobic exercise and mindful stretching helps to calm the mind and body.

I personally have experienced the aerobic exercise helpful for releasing stressful energy and the quiet stretching and deep breathing combined afterwards really brought home the relaxation I needed.

The stress response is coordinated in the body by a part of the nervous system called the autonomic (or automatic) nervous system. This system has two divisions, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system controls the stress response and the parasympathetic nervous system controls the opposite or relaxation response.

Some physical responses to stress-

  • increased heart rate (causing increased need for blood flow to the heart)

  • increased blood pressure (increased tension in blood vessel walls)

  • increased muscle tension which can lead to headache, neck and backaches

  • increased cholesterol

  • increased blood sugar

  • short, shallow breathing

  • abnormalities in immune functioning

  • fluid retention

When stress is chronic, these physical reactions can lead to psychological stress reactions such as-

  • anxiety, acute or chronic

  • depression (especially when stress is chronic)

  • irritability

  • decreased concentration and memory

We end up caught in a vicious cycle. Here are some ways we don’t want to handle stress:

  • overworking

  • overeating

  • isolation

  • inactivity

  • lack of sleep

  • exhaustion

Sometimes you need to work on being calm before you realize just how stressed out you are. Taking time to include aerobic exercise combined with stretching is an opportunity to get quiet, listen to your breath, and release tension from your mind and body and feel relaxed and renewed.

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