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Exercise Over Stress

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More than half of American adults say they experience high levels of stress each and every day. And chronic stress can lead to headaches, back pain, even heart disease.

Exercise offers all the obvious benefits. Bigger muscles and a healthier heart, but exercise also calms our nerves.

Rob Smith PhD, Psychologist: "It's a great way of getting your tensions out and getting a good night's sleep. When you exercise, your body is releasing endorphins...and that's something that's like a natural morphine like substance that pumps through your body and that helps to relax you."

All forms of exercise help people to lighten up but Smith says aerobic exercise may be the most effective.

Rob Smith PhD, Psychologist: "That would include things like jogging, using the treadmill. For me I'm a runner so that's the best way for me to reduce stress. I think the cardio is the biggest thing for me so three days a week I just crank it out."

You don't have to break a major sweat to chill out with exercise. Experts say just 30 minutes of brisk physical activity most of all days of a week can offer a powerful benefit.

For a change of pace from the workout room, Healthpoint, in Waltham, Massachusetts offers "No Sweat, Big Gain" a relaxation class where participants can detox for the day.

Relaxation and regular fitness are simple tools for getting a grip on stress.

Check your local fitness center for a list of stress-relieving classes or exercise programs. But be sure to check in with your doctor first to be sure you don't overdo it.
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