Until I became a first-time dad, I didn’t realize how vital exercise and play were to fighting stress. In the initial stages of my wife and I learning to care for our awesome, new, little one, I began to let my daily workouts slide and time for play (mountain biking for me) fell to the wayside.
Without realizing it, the stress of sleepless nights, changing diapers, a new and ever-changing schedule, and leading our business began to build up. I was more tired, less efficient with my time, shorter with my wife, co-workers and friends and filled with anxiety.
As I internally searched, I was quick to understand what was missing. Exercise and play are vital in fighting stress.
Both promote more blood flow and oxygen to the brain, aiding in a sharper mind, aiding in making decisions during stressful situations. And they promote the release of endorphins, which are the body’s feel-good hormone and natural pain reliever.
Finally, both exercise and play help prevent chronic disease. Managing poor health can be stressful in itself and cause anxiety for many, leading to a further decline in fitness.
First, for purposes of this article let’s define exercise and play.
Exercise is physical activity that is planned, structured and repetitive for the purpose of conditioning any part of the body used to improve health and maintain fitness. Generally you work up a sweat, breath heavy and increase your heart rate during exercise (What is exercise?).
Play is a physical or mental leisure activity that is undertaken purely for enjoyment or amusement and has no other objective. It can be undertaken by individuals or groups spontaneously or as part of a planned activity (Definition of Play).
If you’re stressed the following action steps will help you:
STEP 1 – IDENTIFY YOUR EXERCISE AND PLAY
What are the things you love to do? Running, lifting weights, playing soccer, basketball, mountain biking, etc. What makes you come alive?
Once you have identified those things, seek out avenues that provide those things for you, join a CrossFit gym, a soccer club, meet with your friends to shoot hoops, go to a local cycle shop, ask about the best trails in the area, etc. Get connected.
You can find out more about CrossFit and Lincoln Nutrition & Fitness here.
STEP 2 – SCHEDULE YOUR EXERCISE AND PLAY TIME
Schedule a time in your planner.
If you have kids or a lot on your plate. Work with your significant other to plan times and days of the week in advance to workout and play while the other covers watching the little ones or covering some tasks for you, then do the same for them.
It’s really awesome if you’re able to plan time and workout together as a team! If this is not the case for you, communicate to your partner that this is really important to you and you’d like to make it a priority.
I’ve found in my routine that four days of exercise and one day of play are the most beneficial for fighting stress. It’s not too much and not too little and it allows for a little bit of wiggle room.
If you’re new to an exercise regimen simply start by walking outside for 30 minutes everyday.
If you’re an intermittent exerciser, focus on making exercise a REGULAR routine.
If you’re an avid exerciser, be careful, the need for working out may be a root of stress! Take a day or two off every week and play a sport or engage in a fun activity outside of your normal routine.
STEP 3 – KEEP IT SIMPLE
Exercise and play does not need to be a long and drawn out daily routine. You can get highly effective results in less than 10-30 minutes per day.
Simplicity also keeps you accountable. If you know you only have to commit to exercise for a short period of time each day it makes it a lot easier to follow through. Long, drawn out sessions rarely work because they’re impossible to stay on top of.
Simplicity also breeds intensity. When your workout is simple, you’ll push the pace, which burns more fat, builds lean muscle and leads to faster results.
For example, my workouts the last few days have consisted of the following:
- 1 mile run for time
- 100 Kettlebell swings for time
- 10 Calorie Bike sprint every minute on the minute for 5 minutes
These were all less than a 10 minute time commitment and have left me floored after each attempt. There’s no need to make it fancy.
Your play time can be as simple as shooting hoops or kicking the soccer ball with your kids, my 9 month old loves to be tossed in the air, it’s a lot of fun for the both of us! I can hop on my mountain bike, ride a loop on our local trail and be home in 30 minutes.
The biggest challenge holding us back are our excuses. In reality there are none, it can be done, you can do it, you got this!
STEP #4 – HIRE A COACH
Often the challenge with stress is figuring out what steps to take on your own, what workouts to do, what exercises to include, what to eat, etc. These challenges are a huge obstacle in taking action for fighting stress.
A coach will help you set goals, develop a plan specific to your needs, your busy schedule, help you wade through all the nonsense information and hold you accountable to your plan.
Finally, commit to your action steps. Write it down somewhere and tell others about it and remember: “Change requires action.”
Fitness coaching, goal setting, game-planning and accountability in your exercise routine is a primary piece of what our coaching staff does at Lincoln Nutrition & Fitness.
Schedule a free consultation HERE with one of our coaches to see if Lincoln Nutrition & Fitness is a good fit to help you manage stress!
At Lincoln Nutrition & Fitness, we offer you both nutrition & fitness coaching, from personal training to group CrossFit classes we have the keys to help you reach your goals!
Our personal trainers and group coaches value lifting weights, and using multi-jointed, functional exercises performed at high intensity. You don’t have to guess about what to do!
See you soon!
COACH PHIL KNIEP – Father of two kids
Owner & CEO of Lincoln Nutrition & Fitness
Precision Nutrition L1 Coach
CrossFit Level 3 Trainer
3x CrossFit Games Qualifier