By August 4, 2014 Read More →

Get rid of stress with exercise

By fitness and wellbeing coach John Lingley

John LingleyYou are very passionate, motivated and committed to developing your business and are putting in many work hours in order to achieve this, yet you feel stressed and have a poor work/life balance as a result.

Does this resonate with you?

The increased cortisol in the body that is produced in stressful situations can cause you to feel tired, irritable and have disrupted sleep patterns. It is very easy to confuse the feelings of tiredness with lack of sleep, but the likely cause is the harmful cortisol raging around your body due to elevated stress.

Cortisol has been implicated in a wide range of illnesses and diseases including: heart disease, some forms of cancer, diabetes, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.

However, the most effective way to neutralise the effect of cortisol in the body is to do physical exercise.

Although tiredness in itself can be an easy excuse not to exercise, be aware that the mind is not always very helpful and to stop listening to what it is telling you can certainly pay dividends, especially with regard to your exercise sessions.

You have to look at results versus excuses. We can all come up with as many excuses as we like, but the fact is that they will not give you the results you want!

Your thoughts are not facts. Try to see your thoughts as mental events in the mind rather than absolute truths.  As soon as you face any kind of challenge in life, including doing an exercise session or running a half-marathon, your mind will come up with many reasons for you not to do it.

It can be beneficial to label some of these excuses as ‘stories’. By observing and looking at your thoughts, you can be aware of the different stories that the mind comes up with.

Oh here comes the ‘I’m too tired’ story or the ‘not enough time’ story.

Having this perspective can help you to differentiate between what is an excuse and what is a fact. Allowing these thoughts to pass on by like ‘leaves on a stream’ will focus your attention on taking action to exercise, which is congruent with your values and something that is important and meaningful to you in life.

Much research has been carried out on what is the best time of day to exercise in terms of creating long-term exercise adherence, and this was found to be early morning before starting work.

Many people found that as the pressures of the day build up and unexpected situations present themselves, they are less likely to stick to a regular exercise programme. This means their list of excuses just gets longer and longer.

Ultimately being under stress and not exercising to alleviate and neutralise the harmful effects of cortisol in the body, has the potential to make you less productive and less focused on developing your business.

It is easy to become obsessive when building a business, but being mindful of when we are doing so, may just give us the extra motivation we need to take time out to devote to exercise.

Also developing a written personal stress signature can act as an Early Warning System (EWS) to becoming aware of what your symptoms of stress actually are: tight shoulders, stiff neck, pounding heart, nervousness, irritability etc.

This can support you in being wise to when you are feeling stressed and to utilise the perfect antidote of exercise! If you are feeling tired, the stress signature can also help you to differentiate whether it is lack of sleep or stress that is causing you to feel this way.

After exercising, it can be very motivating to consciously tune into the body and focus on how much better you may be feeling, not only in terms of greater concentration, increased energy and alertness; but feeling much calmer and happier too.

By anchoring and remembering these positive feelings, it may help to motivate you to overcome any ‘I can’t be bothered to exercise’ thoughts in the future that we often experience when undergoing stress.

The most beneficial exercise to counteract the effects of stress due to the neuro-chemicals produced is aerobic exercise.  Aerobic exercise moderates the harmful chemicals of cortisol and adrenaline in the body and also produces mood-enhancing chemicals called endorphins.

Endorphins make us feel more relaxed and give us a more optimistic outlook, often referred to as ‘the runners high’.

Tackling stressful feelings with exercise can also make us feel like we are ‘confronting our demons’ and give us a sense of mastery, which is very beneficial for our general health and wellbeing.  The increased energy gained can be beneficial for many aspects of your life and potentially the increased positivity can lead to greater clarity and creativity.

Therefore, building the healthy habit of exercise into your life may not only be good for your health but for your business too!


John Lingley, Aspirations Coaching: ‘for a fitter body and calmer mind’. Visit: Email:

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