Michael Lehrke is an author, business owner, technology consultant, and motivational speaker from Los Angeles, California. Below, he shares the power of stress relief that comes from physical activity, which helped save his own life.
People have gradually become more health conscious as new discoveries in medicine and healthy living have come to light. Gyms in particular have seen an exponential growth in members in the past decade alone. People like Michael Lehrke have realized the health benefits of frequent physical activity, and use outlets like nature walks and gyms to get regular exercise and cut down on their stress.
“There are so many ways for people to get exercise today, whether it’s swimming in a pool, going to the gym, riding a bike, walking around your neighborhood, or playing sports,” says Mr. Lehrke. “And getting just a little bit of exercise each day or throughout the week is enough to have a big change on your overall health, especially helping to relieve stress.”
Physical activity enhances our ability to use oxygen and increases the flow of blood throughout the body. While exercise directly affects your body–improving bone health, shedding fat, increasing muscle strength, etc.–it also improves brain function. Endorphin levels spike following exercise, which help us feel good and allow us to de-stress. Often, people will experience a period of euphoria following physical activity that spills over into other aspects of their lives.
“Exercise can lower blood pressure, a key ingredient of stress that impacts our bodies,” says Lehrke. “It improves blood circulation and boosts energy levels so you can feel better doing both simple and demanding tasks. Exercising can help you get better sleep at night and improve the way you see yourself. All of this contributes to lower levels of stress.”
In addition to the immediate physical benefits that exercising has, being physically active often draws your mind away from negative thoughts and allows you to live more in the present. Through repetitive motions, we focus in on our bodies and push lingering thoughts out of our minds.
Doctors and other specialists have remarked on the ability of meditation to help manage and alleviate stress for years. When we exercise, we concentrate on specific rhythms in our movements that have the same effect on our minds as meditation. Incorporating physical activity into each week can promote a feeling of calmness in our day-to-day lives, allowing us to feel more optimistic and think with more clarity.
“I meet a lot of people who get scared away from exercise because they believe they have to adopt a rigorous schedule. They think they have to push their bodies to extremes to reap the health benefits,” says Mike. “That just isn’t the case; people should find the physical activities they enjoy most and try to incorporate it a few times throughout the week. You can begin feeling better and a lot less stressed with just twenty minutes of light exercise each day.”