Dear Guys,
I am a busy working mom of three, and I find it very difficult to fit exercise into my day. Given that I often feel stressed, I am wondering what the best exercise would be for me to do.

Jennifer Daily

You hit on an excellent point that most people face today: It’s extremely difficult to find the time to exercise, particularly if you see it as a chore and one more thing about which to stress.

When our bodies are stressed they release chemical hormones such as adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol into our bloodstream. This can cause our heart and respiratory rates to increase, and blood is sent to the muscles of our limbs and away from body functions such as digestion, cell repair and growth. These stress hormones can also diminish our immune system, raise blood pressure and cholesterol and interrupt sleep.

So how do we get rid of them? Well, no surprise: exercise. Almost any kind of exercise, from running to strength training, can work as a stress buster.

• Exercise will literally burn (metabolize) those stress chemicals in your bloodstream.

• Exercise increases the production of the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters (called endorphins) that counteract stress and make you feel better.

The distraction of exercise and physical exertion also helps people let go, forget their worries and rid themselves of nervous tension. It is no surprise that studies have shown regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower symptoms of mild depression and anxiety.

Before starting an exercise regime, I would, however, suggest you do the following (as well as check with your doctor):

Think hard about the kind of physical activity you have enjoyed before. Cycling, jumping rope, swimming, tennis – it matters more that you do something than what you do.

If you really don’t like exercise, try to find a friend who you don’t get to see that often and make a date to meet and exercise together. It will be a great motivator.

Studies have shown people work out harder when they listen to good music, so put together a playlist and add new songs so you’ll have your motivation on
your iPod.

Set some achievable goals, so you can celebrate your achievement when you reach it. Whatever it is – running further, losing two pounds – it will give your workout purpose.

Remember, working out doesn’t have to take hours of your day; 20-30 minutes of fairly vigorous activity a day will make a huge difference. It might mean getting up a little earlier, but you’ll definitely sleep better at night!