Why exercise after a hard day's work?
By Dr Kenneth Gardner
After a long, taxing day at work, many of us feel even more exhausted when we are reminded of the need to exercise. It can be a major challenge to find the courage to exercise at that time.
However, one of the best ways to overcome the stress and fatigue after a hard day's work is to exercise.
Unfortunately, exercising after work may be our best opportunity to fit some physical activity in our day, even though we are tired and lack the motivation.
Sometimes the best cure for fatigue is a vigorous exercise session to energise and invigorate us.
Exercise stimulates our heart function, which results in increased blood flow throughout our body. Increased blood flow increases our ability to generate energy and eliminate waste substances that ultimately prevent the development of both physical and mental fatigue.
When we make the effort and exercise after work, we will increase our energy levels and ultimately improve our mood.
Exercise is an excellent facilitator for the release of tension that we might have built up over the period of our day at work.
Physical exercise energises us so we are able to perform tasks we did not think were manageable.
We can shorten our exercise routine when it is prudent, and exercise need not always take place in a formal setting if this will ensure that we do some physical activity regularly. We can also commit ourselves to achieve more physical activity throughout the day through other means.
Physical activity has a psychoactive effect on us. It changes the way we think, feel and act. Unfortunately, when our livelihood involves more manual work we do not enjoy the identical benefits as those we get from exercise.
Much of the stress we experience from our daily work is associated with negative stress. This causes our body to release stress hormones that depress some of our body functions so we do not feel motivated to do the task.
On the other hand, physical exercise is performed with a different mindset, so it causes the release of stress hormones that stimulate body functions that are associated with a sense of euphoria.
This provides us with an outlet for much of the negative stress that is associated with our day at work. It helps us to realise positive responses in our body functions, such as increased energy level, less mental and physical fatigue and increased alertness - all of which impact how we think, feel and act.
Exercising after work can also facilitate experiences and reflections that aid us with the answers and solutions to the challenges encountered at work.
We can make it easier to exercise after work by doing a less vigorous exercise routine, change the exercise format and do the activities that we enjoy more. Exercising to the rhythm of background music is an easy way to minimise both mental and physical fatigue.
You could also try exercising first thing in the morning. This could give you the burst of energy and motivation you need to start your day.
Dr Kenneth Gardner is an exercise physiologist at Holiday Hills Research Center; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.