I have a stressful job and I’m always tired. I want to start exercising because I’ve been told it will help improve my energy levels. I was considering trying a new hobby or sport, what do you recommend?
Firstly, I’m glad you’re deciding to make a positive change. Exercise can help improve energy levels, if performed at the right intensity.
Stress and exercise intensity
Stress from work is mental, whereas exercise is a physical stressor on the body. It’s important to workout at an intensity that makes you feel better, not worse.
When you exercise at the right intensity it releases endorphins, helps relieve stress, and improves your mood. However, if you are stressed from work, high intensity exercise will not only increase your lactic acid, cortisol (stress hormone) levels but, it will also increase your risk of injury. Consider that sometimes, less is more.
Selecting a new hobby or sport
Decide if you want to participate in a team or if you prefer to workout alone. Team sports can be a good stress reliever, can distract a busy mind and they are a great way to make new friends. Try a football, rowing or running club, for example.
However, if you like down time and need to relax, simply walking or swimming can be a great form of active meditation. Why not try exercising outside in the fresh air while the weather is good, before it gets too hot!
Consider what motivates you. Are you competitive, or driven by goals? If not, a half-hour morning run at sunrise might be more appealing to you than competing in an Iron Man.
Choose a sport you enjoy and that doesn’t seem like a chore. For example, if you don’t enjoy running and have knee problems, an activity that has less impact on the joints such as cycling will be a better option.
Exercise and energy levels
Exercise at a time when you have the most energy. If you’re a morning person, train first thing. If you are energetic in the evenings, training later can help you unwind and fall asleep more easily after a stressful day.
Allocate one hour of your day on days that you have most free time. This will help you reduce the chance of you skipping exercise because you get distracted with other things.
Recommendations for sports (one size does not fit all)
Activities such as horse riding can be very therapeutic, and a great leg workout, boxing or tennis can also be great stress relievers and fun.
From contact sports, such as rugby, to non-contact sports such as rowing, team or single sports, competitive or non-competitive, there is something for everyone at all ability levels. Just be mindful to take things at your own pace and select the right exercise and intensity that makes you feel good.
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