How Jogging Benefits Help Slash Stress

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH


Jogging benefits for stress and anxietyWhether it’s at work or with the family, you can easily end up finding yourself under a great deal of stress. Luckily, there are many healthy ways you can address this. You can choose to try meditation or yoga. You can make a conscious effort towards keeping a positive attitude or call a friend to talk. You can journal or do a hobby. Another great coping strategy to try is physical exercises such as jogging. In fact, there are a lot of jogging benefits that help with reducing stress. This is especially true when you jog regularly and properly.

The Goal of Jogging

Jogging is a low-intensity form of exercise wherein you run at a leisurely or slow pace. When you are jogging, you are only going on a pace that is less than six miles per hour. On the other hand, when you’re running, you are usually moving faster than six miles per hour.

The main goal of jogging is to increase one’s fitness levels without experiencing any significant stress. This is precisely why serious runners use jogging as an active recovery method during an interval training. And because it is lower-intensity, jogging is also ideal for countering stress and adrenal fatigue.

The Dynamics of Stress and Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) is a condition that is triggered by stress. Specifically, a person may suffer from AFS due to prolonged or chronic stress.

When the body needs to address stress, it relies on the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system. Here, six circuits of organs and systems work independently and interdependently to initiate the fight or flight response. These include the bioenergetics, neuroaffect, inflammation, cardionomic, detoxification, and hormone circuits.

The bioenergetics circuit is composed of the liver, pancreas, and thyroid. Here, the thyroid works to produce hormones that increase the body’s basal metabolic rate once stress is detected. This allows the body to be ready and have all the energy it needs to deal with the threat. Meanwhile, the pancreas produces insulin to get cells the glucose they need to give you an energy boost. And finally, the liver works to clear away any excess metabolites as a result of the bioenergetics response.

Typically, all the body systems related to the NEM stress response system return to normal function as stress goes away. However, in the case of chronic stress, this is simply not possible. Unable to rest, many of the body’s systems become overworked. For instance, in the bioenergetics circuit, the thyroid function slows down. And when this happens, the body is no longer able to produce enough energy to keep dealing with stress.

As part of the NEM stress response system, the adrenal glands in the hormone circuit have also been hard at work producing stress hormones to enable the body to fight or flee. Among these hormones is cortisol, which is the body’s primary stress hormone. At some point, however, the adrenals reach their maximum output for cortisol and other hormones. And this decreased ability to produce hormones impacts the thyroid gland, which also affects its ability to produce hormones. Because of this, the body suffers from a major hormonal imbalance. This, in turn, results in adrenal fatigue.

Fortunately, with regular exercise such as jogging, research has shown that stress can be reduced and adrenal fatigue can be prevented.

Jogging Benefits for Stress

Jogging benefits include cortisol and endorphinsOne of the best jogging benefits is that it can help you reduce stress.

In fact, a study in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation found low-intensity exercises such as jogging can lead to a decrease in cortisol levels. This means that stress levels have also been reduced, thereby preventing adrenal fatigue. Similarly, a study published in Sport Sciences of Health found that cortisol levels among sedentary male participants were significantly reduced after doing treadmill exercises. Another study in New York found that jogging resulted in a significant short-term reduction in stress levels among college students.

A published study in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica found reduced depression and anxiety levels among participants that practiced jogging and walking. Another study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research also found that exercise can help lower one’s depression and anxiety levels. Moreover, it also found a significant improvement in mood among participants following low-intensity exercise only.

How to Jog Properly for Maximum Jogging Benefits

Jogging can do wonders for your body, but you need to know how to jog properly. Just like other forms of physical exercise, jogging requires good technique so that you can experience as much of its health benefits as possible. Also, doing it properly can help ensure that you avoid any possible injuries, which can add further stress to your entire body. This is especially true for adrenal fatigue sufferers. Many feel good during exercise only to crash afterward.

Before you begin to jog regularly though, especially if you suffer from adrenal fatigue or another preexisting medical condition, it might be best to also seek advice from your physician. Some medical conditions, including AFS, can be aggravated by physical exercise. Also if you’re in the later stages of adrenal fatigue, you might not be able to get out of bed to walk to the bathroom, let alone jog. These exercises are for preventing adrenal fatigue or helping reduce stress in early stages of adrenal fatigue.

That said, here are some guidelines to observe in order to maximize jogging benefits for your body:

Always warm up first.

When you warm up properly, there is a better chance of avoiding injury while performing all types of exercise. First, you can do some dynamic stretches with some jumping jacks for around 25 to 30 seconds. The adrenal yoga and adrenal circulation exercises are also excellent tools to prepare the body. For the lower body, try standing with your hands against a wall and swing your right leg back and forth 10 times. Then switch to the left and repeat the exercise. Overall, the total warm-up routine should only take around five to 10 minutes. Be sure to pace yourself, be aware of your limits, and not to push your body too hard. Otherwise, stretching can cause discomfort and pain.

Pay close attention to your foot strikes.

When jogging, make sure that the ball of your foot hits the ground and your toes are pointed downward slightly. This helps the foot land lightly when you jog.

Maintain good form in your head, shoulders, arms, and chest.

Maintaining good form will prevent unnecessary injuries while jogging. Keep your arms bent at the elbows to help relax your shoulders. Make sure your head is resting over your neck.

Be careful with how you move your hips, legs, and back.

When jogging, you use both hips and legs to propel yourself forward. When you do this, make sure there is not much waist movement to avoid twisting your back. In addition, keep your back straight to avoid lower back pain later on.

Practice this breathing technique.

Doing some belly breathing while you jog can help increase endurance. To do this, breathe through your mouth and allow your diaphragm to lift then retract. When jogging, inhale as you take two steps and exhale for the next two.

Conclusion

By jogging properly, you can enjoy the exercise, experience jogging benefits, and practice it safely at the same time. To help keep stress away, it helps to jog regularly. Try to do it every day or every other day. Some people like to jog in the morning before going to work or at night after getting home. Whichever time of day you choose, you will find that jogging can relax you and effectively keep the stress away.

However, remember that exercise is a two-edged sword for adrenal fatigue sufferers. You want to get enough exercise to help the body recover, but too much can drain your energy reserve. Always consult your doctor prior to embarking on intense exercise if you have adrenal fatigue.

 
© Copyright 2014 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Some key jogging benefits against stress and adrenal fatigue include reduced levels of anxiety and depression. This, in turn, results in improved moods, which prevents stress from becoming chronic. There are also studies which showed that jogging can reduce cortisol levels.


Jogging benefits