As part of my weekly routine, I browse through recently published studies and reports about health, nutrition and exercise. You might imagine that it gets a little repetitive — the studies show that it’s important to eat right, And exercise is good for you. We get it. But what if you don’t want to exercise?
We’ve all been there. You exercise because you want to feel and look better, but you feel (and possibly even look) miserable while you’re
working out. Could this emotional stress be taking its toll on you?
A study published this month in the European Journal of Neuroscience suggests that it doesn’t. It’s important to note that the experiment was performed on rats and not humans, but the researchers found that even rats that were forced to exercise against their will, running on wheels when they couldn’t control their pace, showed signs of stress resistance that wasn’t present in the group of sedentary rats.
What does this mean for you? Well, I know you’re not a rat, but the study does support the notion that exercise can help alleviate stress – even if you’re dragged into it kicking and screaming.
Still, it’s probably best if we enjoy the exercises we’re doing, and so here are some ideas for getting more enjoyment out of your workouts:
Choose your exercise wisely. It’s important that you choose something you actually enjoy, but if you can’t think of anything, there are some guidelines that may help. A 1988 study in Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport found that exercises that meet four requirements involving aerobics, non-competitiveness, predictability and repetitiveness may reduce stress.
Consider yoga. Yoga not only meets the guidelines outlined above, but it has been the subject of many stress-related studies. For example, a 2007 Complementary Therapies in Medicine study found that this form of exercise may provide more improvements in stress and anxiety compared than even standard relaxation techniques.
Set it to music. Regardless of what kind of exercise moves you, music can help enhance your experience. A 2006 Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness Study found that listening to music during low intensity workouts may decrease stress caused by fatigue.