WASHINGTON - Stress has a tight grip on many Americans, but exercise is a good way to fight it, experts say.
The newly released 2013 Work Stress Survey by Harris Interactive for Everest College indicates that 83 percent of people say they are stressed at work, citing low pay and heavy workloads as top contributors.
"Take responsibility for your health and become more stress resilient," says Kathleen Hall, chief executive officer of the Stress Institute and the Mindful Living Network.
Besides good eating habits and short meditations, Hall says exercise can play a key role in reducing stress.
"Yoga stretches at your desk [or] at your home," Halls say. "Teach your kids to do it, walk around the neighborhood, walk around the office building."
Personal trainer Fairfax Hackley adds that "exercise is one of the best stress relievers."
"We need to be healthy both inside and outside and many of us don't even know or realize just how stressed we are," he says.
Exercise burns up excess energy caused by stress and it metabolizes stress hormones such as cortisol. And if cortisol is better managed, stress is reduced.
Exercise also can cut stress by releasing endorphins, brain chemicals that are natural stress fighters.
"That runner's high" is worthwhile because it's the "euphoria of doing something absolutely positive," Hackley says.
Exercise also can boost confidence and improve breathing, both of which are important components to countering stress.
While eight of 10 people say they're stressed at work, few simple steps can go a long way.
"Get up and just walk away," Hackley says.
"Walk away from your desk, walk away from work, take a 2- to 3-minute walk. It will work wonders."
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