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Sport an ally against stress 

What could be better than a running session to relieve stress? Sport is the natural anti-stress activity par excellence. It allows you to decrease the pressure and boost your mind. Explanations.

Stress, a natural reaction

Stress is a normal reaction of the body, it allows to face difficult situations, unforeseen or to adapt to important changes. On a daily basis, when practicing a sport, the body produces specific stress hormones : adrenaline and cortisol. A strong sensation hormone, adrenaline is first secreted: it accelerates the heart rate, breathing, blood pressure; the brain and muscles receive more oxygen. It makes it possible to mobilize the organism to face the danger. Then cortisol helps us cope with stress by mobilizing the energy necessary to nourish the muscles, the brain but also the heart, in particular by converting fat into sugar in order to provide our body with even more energy. “I can feel good stress, like a boost, when I launch a new product, when I communicate on television, when I have to participate in a talk or when I start a competitive race,” explains Justine Hutteau, 25-year-old athlete and founder of natural hygiene care Breathe. Physical and mental trainer, Guillaume Siber confirms that “in certain circumstances, we can speak of good stress. It can help stimulate motivation and the mind, to be more lively and alert in certain situations ”.

Also, a pernicious cog

Punctual reaction, stress disappears as soon as the event or adaptation occurs. However, we are constantly subjected to stress (transport, journeys, work, family rhythm). Loss of sleep, irritability, lack of concentration, physical fatigue and mental exhaustion, stress has repercussions on both our body and our psyche.

Stress affects everyone, even children, but to different degrees and intensities. Between the good stress that allows us to be vigilant and efficient and the bad stress that prevents us from functioning well, there are all the small everyday stressful situations that we have to manage, explains Guillaume Siber..

Instagram: @cecileesp

Freelance content writer, Cecile Espinasse juggles his days under pressure and his yoga classes to keep a cool head: “As a self-employed worker, stress can come from the deadlines of certain projects but also from job insecurity because you don’t know what tomorrow will be done. Stress is always underlying. So to cut the heavy days, I practice a Yoga session in the evening. For an hour, I am in my bubble, totally disconnected from work ”.

Without this type of cut, the body can no longer rest and gradually becomes exhausted. “We then speak of chronic stress” underlines Guillaume Siber, our specialist. The individual then becomes physically and mentally fatigued and different symptoms can appear such as headaches, insomnia, loss of appetite, eczema, digestive problems, anxiety and also depression. It can also lead to cardiovascular disease.

Dopamine and endorphins, sport promotes well-being hormones!

Numerous studies have proven that sporting activity has a beneficial role in our body, notably by maintaining our heart, arteries and lungs in good health, as well as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Not to mention that it reduces stress and boosts the mind. By physiologically accustoming the body to manage stress (pulse, blood pressure, hormonal secretions, etc.) and to relax afterwards, sport allows you to better adapt and recover after pressure blows. Faced with anxiety, it acts like a natural medicine by secreting a large amount of endorphins, the famous hormones of happiness, which promotes a feeling of well-being. Cardio activities, such as running, boxing, cycling, swimming, help produce the most. They have analgesic (pain reduction) and anxiolytic (anxiety reduction) action. Sport thus eliminates the symptoms of blues and fatigue.

Instagram: @justinehutteau

Physical activity also allows the brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is involved in reward mechanisms. This “pleasure molecule” explains the state of euphoria and fullness felt just after a workout. This is the reason why sport can be addictive like a drug, we speak of bigorexia. Coming from a sporty family without really being it herself, Justine Hutteau chose, during her studies in Montreal, her thesis subject: “Why do people run and motivate themselves through social networks? “. Dedicated and passionate, Justine plays the game by opening an Instagram account dedicated to running and starts running! She discovers a solidarity and an unexpected fervor which will push her to win bib on bib until the half-marathon. If today, she runs less regularly because of her entrepreneurial activity, she always sets goals : “It’s a real passion that contributes to my life balance. I feel that I need it, sport allows me to let off steam. This is the moment when I find myself alone, without solicitation, and when I can clear my head. It allows me to think of something else and to take a little endorphins shoot. I run on weekends in particular, to take a break from the office and take a break: take a real break ”. In addition to relaxing us, sport allows us to increase our self-confidence and boost our creativity. In addition, the risks of depression and burn-out are removed.

The antidote: at least 1 hour of sport per week

Numerous studies have shown that from one hour of practice per week, the effects on our well-being are felt: better sleep, increased energy, reduced anxiety. According to a study by researchers at Yale and Oxford universities, people who exercise regularly feel better and more often. The results showed that people in the panel who engaged in regular physical activity felt psychologically ill 35 days a year, compared to 53 days for inactive people. The researchers explained that physical activity promotes muscle relaxation and the release of stimulating neural messages. It also promotes the growth and connection of neurons as well as the regulation of emotions at all ages of life, men and women.

The ideal recipe: 30 minutes daily

If from one hour of sports practice per week, we can see improvements, the ideal recipe is 30 minutes of daily effort. The more regular the activity, the greater the effect on mental health. Researcher in positive psychology and presented as the “professor of happiness” for his courses at Harvard, Tal Ben Shahar, often talks about the link between sport and happiness. For him, overactivity is responsible for our contemporary stress, hence the need to practice physical exercise to evacuate it. “ The ideal is to get 30 minutes of physical activity three times a week. It is as effective as the most powerful of the psychotropic drugs. Whether it’s raining or shining, I never forget to play sports, swim or dance, ”he explains.

Sport improves, among other things, mood, creativity, concentration, learning abilities. Guillaume Siber, also a hypnotherapist, explains that “sports and relaxation should be daily. When we are anxious or stressed, we do not always realize that we are breathing more choppy. Taking deep breaths of air increases the amount of oxygen in the brain, slows the heart rate, and relaxes certain muscles in the stomach. A simple walk to work instead of transport helps reduce stress and anxiety ”.

So ready to try the recipe for happiness? Find out which sport suits you to better relieve stress.

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