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A stress-free way to reduce stress

You may know that being active can improve your physical health and reduce the risk of developing a range of conditions including Type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. But did you know that physical activity can also have a positive impact on your mental health and, in particular, can help to reduce stress?

The impact on stress levels is immediate when you undertake physical activity. This is because exercise increases your brain’s production of endorphins, which are the body’s feel-good neurotransmitters.

These are responsible for the so-called runner’s high, that sense of euphoria that many people get following exercise. This improved mood post-exercise doesn’t just go away; rather it tends to continue and increase over time with regular activity.

Physical activity can also improve sleep, with sleeping problems being a common sign of stress. And as well as these physical benefits, being active can help to take your mind off worries as you concentrate on the activity in hand.

There are many types of physical activity and all can have these benefits so it’s a case of finding out what works best for you.

Whether it’s going for a walk at lunch time, cycling instead of driving or taking a class at the gym, it’s just about being active.

However, activities with a focus on relaxation, such as yoga or Tai Chi, could be of particular benefit to help reduce stress.

Tom Donaldson, health improvement practitioner, said: “Any type of exercise is useful, as long as it suits you and you do enough of it. Exercise should be something you enjoy; otherwise, it will be hard to find the motivation to do it regularly. As a starting point, staff can try some of our free Active Staff classes. They could help staff become more active and feel less stressed.

“Feedback indicates that not only are staff benefiting physically from the yoga and Tai Chi classes, but these classes are reducing stress levels and giving staff time to properly relax.”

Find classes near you and book at: www.nhsggc.org.uk/activestaff