How sports and exercise can reduce stress and anxiety

During the Corona crisis, many people are walking around with fears, stress, anxiety, and insecurity. Will the Coronavirus come back, can the economy still recover and will we overcome the crisis are in many people's minds.

In addition, loneliness and lack of income also contributed to these feelings. Exercise can protect you against these unnecessarily anxious feelings, stress, and insecurity.

Reduce stress and anxiety by exercising

Sports in a war zone without stress

Slim is a refugee from Syria who now lives in the Netherlands and is a personal fitness trainer. He told me from his own experience how, despite the circumstances, he was able to overcome his fears thanks to his daily workout.

At a young age, he wanted to become a box champion. He lived with his parents in Aleppo and life laughed at him. Until the war broke out, then everything changed at once.

He only had a few months left to train for the championship in Damascus. That was the place where he could turn his years of training into a title. But where do you train when bombs and grenades literally fly around your ears?

The roof of his parental home was the safest place. In the open air and burning sun pushup after pushup and squad after squad went on. But even there the bullets literally flew around his ears. In the beginning, the sweat of fear streamed harder than the sweat of intensive training.

He wanted to go on and did not want to be stopped by the violence around him. He had to and would win that title. But he had to overcome his fears and stress over the flying bullets.

What Slim noticed is that it wasn't his drive and motivation to win the match, but the sport itself that lowered the fear and stress. Every time after 10 to 15 minutes of exercise he noticed that he became calmer in his mind and his body was less protesting. That feeling was also not temporary, he remained calm and relaxed for the rest of the day.

The end of the story is that he traveled via a secret route to Damascus and won the title. Actually it was two victories he was entitled to put on his name. The first victory came because his opponent went knockout and the second victory was because he had defeated his fears and stress.

What did he do to get his fears and stress under control and how does that work?

The power of dopamine after exercise

Dopamine is a substance that your body produces that makes you feel happy and joyful. That is why it is sometimes called the lucky hormone or substance. Alcohol and drugs also make your body produce dopamine and that's why many people love to smoke, drink, or take drugs.

Dopamine is created as a reward for things that your brain thinks should be rewarded. That sounds strange when you think that your body would reward you for alcohol or drugs, but scientists think that's a so-called error of the human body.

If you exercise, eat healthily, have sex, or do other healthy activities such as walking in the woods or meditating, dopamine is produced in your body.

Fortunately, dopamine does more than make you feel good and fine. Dopamine makes your brain function better and makes you calm in your mind and body. You are better able to put things into perspective and generally make better decisions. Unless you simultaneously paralyze your brain with alcohol or drugs. Then you are happy, but your brain does not work optimally anymore.

The body produces 3 other hormones that help to de-stress

During exercise, there are 3 other hormones that help to overcome anxiety and stress. These are endorphin, serotonin, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

Endorphin gives us a universal feeling of love and peace. It calms us down and numbs our pains.

Serotonin gives a feeling of self-confidence and satisfaction. A very important component to reduce stress and anxiety. Uncertain people generally experience more anxiety.

GABA is a natural anxiety inhibitor and provides a feeling of calm. Many chemical anxiety inhibitors stimulate the GABA receptors in our brain and ensure, among other things, a better night's sleep.

So what Slim did on the roof terrace while the bullets were flying around his ears was to have his body make the necessary chemicals for that situation. This allowed him to overcome stress and anxiety. Because that's one of the side effects that fitness, a workout, or any other form of intensive exercise do to you.

Overcome fear and stress by a workout and fitness

About Slim

Slim is a former youth box champion of Syria, an old school personal fitness trainer and mental coach for motivation and happiness. He believes in a world where people will go back to basics and through a healthy mind and body, people can resist the inevitable setbacks of life.

Slim is not only a person who believes in "practice what you preach", but he is also a person who has overcome more misfortune than many others. In spite of that, he has retained his optimism, joy, drive, tranquility, and respect for people, animals, and the world.

Slim is now working full-time to pass on his knowledge and experience to people who need it. He mainly focuses on overweight people, entrepreneurs, and people who have decided that their bodies looks and functions differently than they would like them to.

Watch the video here soon with his own story of how he overcame his fears and stress and his ultimate opponent in the ring.

Ben Steenstra Ben Steenstra
28-06-2020 6 mins read
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