A Little Exercise Goes a Long Way Towards Managing Stress

Would you be surprised if I told you signs of stress and anxiety often show up first in my office? Practically every day, I’ll see a patient suffering from the oral symptoms of stress – mouth pain, bruxism (the technical term for grinding teeth and/or clenching jaws), TMJ disorders, even gum disease. So, as your dentist, I’m suggesting a very simple Rx for Step #1: Get Moving!

Exercise in a wide array of activities – from aerobics to walking to yoga – can be potent stress relievers. You don’t have to be a marathon runner or an elite athlete to get positive results from a fairly simple program. You might choose biking, brisk walking, swimming (my all time favorite), playing tennis – even dancing or gardening.

So what exactly are the stress-busting benefits of exercise? For starters, physical activity helps raise the production of your brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitters – the endorphins. Becoming more active helps you take your mind off your worries. In fact, the repetitive motions of exercise helps you focus on your body, rather than your mind.

As you begin to get into the habit of relieving daily tensions through the workout of your choice, you’ll find yourself having more energy in the day, sleeping better at night. You’ll also notice an increase in self-confidence, the ability to concentrate more effectively, a more positive mood, and a feeling of overall well-being. If it sounds simple, it is. And here’s a final thought: working out with friends or family can add to the stress-busting benefits. Your workout will feel less like work and more like fun.