As women, we tend to always put ourselves at the bottom of the queue when it comes to our own personal health. NAPW Local Chapters build communities where we as women can support each other in many ways. May is Physical Fitness and Sports Month on the NAPW Foundation Calendar, and our local chapters are encouraging members to put themselves first by dedicating time to exercise. The benefits are quite empowering.
Q. What is the correlation between physical fitness and managing stress?
A: Many studies have been completed on the effects of exercise on your overall health and sense of well-being. The Mayo clinic has documented that exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits. For instance…
- It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.
- It’s meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task—and the resulting energy and optimism—can help you remain calm and clear in everything you do.
- It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence, it can relax you, and it can lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All of these exercise benefits can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.
Published investigations have concluded that individuals with higher levels of fitness are able to manage stress more effectively than those who are less in shape.
Q: What is the correlation between physical fitness and professional success?
A: On his website, Certified Physical Therapist Brian Calkins highlighted the correlation between sound health and fitness, and success in a person’s career and personal life. Think about the successful people you know. They probably use the health club consistently, work with a personal trainer, or exercise early in the morning to get their heart pumping. Successful people like to jump start their day with an abundance of energy and the feel-good endorphins that exercise offers. Recent studies identify the direct correlation between fitness and success. Better ability to focus, improved confidence and enhanced ability to follow through were directly attributed to improved fitness levels, according to a 2007 University of Georgia study. Further, a leading executive search company surveyed more than 1,300 executives who earn $100,000 or more annually. When asked to describe their perceptions of weight and work, 75 percent said good physical fitness is “critical for career success at the executive level.” Seventeen percent, by contrast, said staying in shape is “a nice goal, but secondary to fiscal fitness.”
Q: How is exercise good for your wallet?
A: Certified fitness professional Jolynn Baca Jaekel explains: “What I love about walking is that anyone can do it at any age and any fitness level. Plus, it is good for your heart, your head and your wallet.”
A recent report by the Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support has documented the health benefits of the humble walk. The report found that walking regularly, 3-5 times a week is a way to keep healthy and fulfill the 150 minutes of moderate exercise (recommended by UK’s chief medical officer). It is reported that this form of exercise could save 37,000 lives each year and could lead to nearly 300,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes.
For some, walking can be as effective as running. Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, found that brisk walking reduces the risk of heart disease more effectively than running. They also observed participants aged between 18 and 80 over a six-year period and found that walking reduced the risk of heart disease by 9.3%, while running reduced it by 4.5%.
Make sure to read this month’s Message from Louise that offers insights on how physical fitness leads to “professional fitness.”