Move it… but low impact.

Transcript of the Feature ‘Health Matters’ on Radio X  from 13 January 2013

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress Coach and welcome to a new season of Health Matters.  In Health Matters I take a closer look at the S word that has become one of the biggest challenges to our health and wellbeing Stress.

This week I’m going to get you moving.

That exercise relieves stress probably doesn’t come as  a surprise to you but did you know that the long-term effects of daily exercise can be a powerful antidepressant more effective than any antidepressant drugs on the market?

The question you will ask off-course is how much exercise and what type? Well that depends on you? Are you a sportive person or not? How long have you been inactive? Too much too quick and you’ll become discouraged because you can’t keep it up or get injuries. So set yourself a realistic goal.

As time goes, it is better 5 minutes now and then then a 1h work-out if stress relieve is what you seek. This can be a walk around the block, cycling to work or to the shop. It doesn’t have to be sport? It is about moving. Taking the time to stretch those legs and move those arms.

Gardening, walking the dog, playing with your children, taking an elderly person for a walk a couple of times a week can all be seen as exercise, even cleaning if it is done with a certain vigour and heart.

The mistake many people make is to sit all day in the office stressing out but then to compensate go for a good hard run in the evening? The purpose of exercise is to relax, to lower the sympathetic tone of your autonomic nervous system and increase the relaxation response.

Stress heightens your heart rate, blood pressure, breath rate with all the adverse effects that has and that I’ve talked about before on Health Matters. So imagine that when your heart rate and blood pressure has been high all day and you on top of that go and strain your body more with a good challenging run… you’re putting the pressure on even more… that can be a recipe for a heart attack or stroke… and unfortunately it is more common then you think.

Oh you don’t like exercise, you think it’s boring then the solution can be to make a mind shift and see it as transport from A to B and walk and cycle as much as you can to go to the shop, work or for any reason you need to get around. Leave that car behind if you have to get somewhere within a radius of say less then 5 km away. Get a decent backpack with waist strap that can hold some groceries and a few 1.5l bottles or something that you think you’ll need to make that exercise – shopping or trip to work practical and more enjoyable.

So in short regular 5 minutes of low intensity exercise decreases stress. Best is what scientist call green exercise meaning exercise that takes you outdoors.

  • Short sessions are better then 1 long one
  • Take the time as time doesn’t come to you.
  • Find something that gets you moving that you know you enjoy.

The benefits over time are improved heart rate variability, lower heart rate and blood pressure, increase in willpower and resilience. In general improved health and wellbeing.

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress coach for body & mind and contributor of thought more joyful and healthy way of living. For more information on Health Matters go to the website

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