Resilience may be the new relaxation. As lovely as an afternoon of yoga, massage, and meditation might sound, the truth is that a life of nonstop chilling may get boring. Occasional stress helps you accomplish things great and small, like a work project, a house renovation, or childcare. It’s not exactly stress itself that wears you down, but unrelenting stress, both physical and mental, that takes a toll on your health. The good news is that you can cultivate resilience to chronic, harmful stress with regular exercise, the ultimate wellness intervention. You probably know how good a long hike or vigorous bike ride can make you feel for the rest of the day. But a different type of stress-busting magic also happens. Over time, not only does regular exercise lower your levels of two stress hormones — cortisol and adrenaline — but regular exercise also appears to strengthen certain specific areas of the brain that put the brakes on stress and anxiety. In other words, exercise helps you roll with what life dishes out — and maybe you’ll even enjoy the ride! Take a good, hard look at any obstacles that stand between you and a regular exercise routine, then tackle them. Schedule in daily walks, bike rides, dance classes, basketball, tennis, or whatever physical activities you enjoy. The next time a wave of stress comes along, you may find that, instead of being knocked down, you’ll ride that wave — and surf it all the way back to shore.
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