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Overcoming stress through exercise
I recently researched some centenarians, hoping to get more insight into the foods they ate and to see if there was some common thread. To my surprise, there was very little in food that linked them together. Some were still eating red meat, while others opted for more seafood; some were still drinking brandy, while others were sipping apple cider vinegar. There was however, one piece of advice that most of them shared, and that was not to stress yourself out; in other words—don't worry! In fact, I would say that most centenarians seem to have an innate ability to deal with stress.
Research has shown that as much as 60-90 per cent of all illnesses are directly caused by too much stress. Stress of itself is linked to quite an assortment of diseases which include high blood pressure, heart disease, stomach problems etc. It also accounts for sleep loss, headaches, weight gain or weight loss and may even affect your sex drive! As strange as it may seem, the irony is that some people wear stress as a badge of accomplishment. In other words, it is a straight case of—I am really stressed out, so I must be successful! Of course, we can only hope that these foolish people are in the minority.
If in a 24-hour day, you can’t find one hour for yourself, then something is seriously wrong with your ability to organise your life. Don’t give me that stupid excuse that no one else can do your job; because rest assured, God forbid, if you were to drop dead, your fellow workers will talk about you in glowing terms for one day, then someone else will be doing your job! Okay, so you have found that hour, now what are you going to do with it—meditate, read or exercise? I say kill two birds with one stone and opt to exercise. It (exercise) is going to help to relax you, while at the same time get you in such great shape, that someone else is now going to be stressed out watching your awesome physique!
Types of exercise
You must choose an activity that you genuinely enjoy. Don’t choose running if you hate running, because you won’t stay on the programme very long. I suggest that initially you avoid competitive sports, until your confidence in your physical ability has grown significantly. Spend time with yourself and learn to enjoy your own company. Go for a nature ride on your mountain bike, do a couple laps in a pool or even enjoy a nice hike. On a personal note, when I feel stressed out, because of my martial arts background, I enjoy kicking the heavy bag and performing sledge hammer training on the tractor tyre; sledge training also has the added benefit of giving you an awesome back and shoulders.
Now, you don’t have to be a martial artist to enjoy the benefits of the heavy bag; all you need is a good pair of leather mitts (protective gloves) and you can enjoy punching the heavy bag, which is great for your arms, shoulders, abs and back.
Brian Chin Leung is a certified personal trainer.