Most people intuitively understand that exercise can improve your mood, but it was only last week that scientists figured out how it works. Their findings are of enormous importance to everybody who experiences stress at work.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, exercising causes your muscles to release a set of chemicals that block other chemicals the body releases in response to frequent stress.

In other words, constant stress brings you down, but consistent exercise lifts you up.

Many great entrepreneurs are famous for their ability to tolerate the stress and pressures of work. On the other side of the coin, there are plenty of people who'd like to be more successful but can't "go the extra mile" because they can't tolerate more stress.

If you exercise regularly, though, you can actually increase the amount of stress that you can tolerate without feeling its ill effects. Put another way, if you work out a lot, you can work a lot harder. Hey, there's a reason so many high-tech offices have in-house gyms.

Minor changes in your daily routine can also release stress-reducing chemicals. For example:

  • Walk while reading emails on your phone. Remember to keep half an eye on your surroundings, though. You don't want to run into someone or step into a busy street.
  • Take the stairs rather than the elevator. This not only helps you beat stress but also keeps you from having to listen to elevator music or somebody else's elevator pitch.
  • Stand while you're working. Standing burns a surprising number of calories and therefore releases those stress-relieving chemicals. As an added benefit, standing is better for your back than sitting.
  • Create a chair-less conference room. This not only reduces the level of stress among attendees but also encourages attendees and presenters to get to the point more quickly.

Whichever path you take, it's reassuring to realize that you can actually do something about stress. Let other people complain about how stressed they are. Take action and take control. You'll never regret it.

Published on: Oct 4, 2014
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