MoveWell Health and Fitness


How Exercise Helps Us Manage Midlife Anxiety and Stress

When we transition through midlife, it isn’t uncommon to encounter levels of stress and anxiety we may never have experienced before. The added pressure caused by our careers, family responsibilities, or other existential factors can often be unbearable. At a stage in our life when we are required to meet so many demands, it makes sense that our mental health and emotional well-being can also be affected. Thankfully, there are ways we can cope. One of the best ways to navigate this time of our lives is by taking regular exercise. This doesn’t mean we need to spend day after day in the gym, but incorporating regular light to moderate exercise into our lives can work wonders. Today, we are going to discuss the numerous physical and mental health benefits exercise can provide to help us cope with midlife stress and anxiety. 

Understanding the Link Between Mental Health and Exercise 

When we begin to exercise regularly, it can have a powerful effect on our mental well-being, particularly when managing stress and anxiety. Physical activity is a brilliant way to stimulate the release of the endorphins and neurotransmitters our brains need to feel good and lift our moods. The more often this happens, the more serotonin and dopamine, which play a vital role in mood regulation, are produced. 

In addition to these essential ‘feel good’ chemicals, engaging in regular physical activity promotes the development of new brain cells and neural connections, especially in the area of our brain we use for cognitive function and emotional regulation. This not only improves our ability to deal with stress and anxiety but can enhance our mental resilience and overall well-being. 

What Specific Exercises Can Help with Midlife Stress and Anxiety 

To manage midlife stress and anxiety through exercise doesn’t mean engaging in extreme fitness every day; it is simply a way to maintain as much physical activity as possible without feeling exhausted or fatigued. Here is a list of physical activities that may help navigate the difficulties of midlife stress. 

Yoga: This combines breathing techniques, meditation, and physical postures to promote relaxation, increase strength and flexibility, improve balance, and relieve stress. Regular yoga sessions are a brilliant way to enhance our mood by enabling us to focus on our well-being through light and relaxing exercise, making it an excellent choice for people of all fitness levels. 

Walking: Incorporating this simple routine into our daily lives can be a very effective way of alleviating midlife stress and anxiety. As well as a brilliant source of physical exercise, it allows us time to clear our minds, connect with nature, release tension, decompress, and embrace the outdoors. Additionally, when we walk, plenty of endorphins are released to increase the production of serotonin in our brains, elevating our mood and reducing feelings of anxiety or depression. 

Strength Training: Though it sounds strenuous, it doesn’t have to be. Strength training can range from light dumbbells and bodyweight exercises to extreme weightlifting; the choice is yours. Doing this as often as possible can have a tremendously positive impact on our mental health. As well as releasing all of the right chemicals to lift our mood, strength training can also boost confidence and improve our body image, leading to higher levels of self-esteem.

Tai Chi: This gentle martial art form primarily focuses on slow, flowing movements and deep breathing exercises. Many people refer to Tai Chi as moving meditation for the mindfulness, relaxation, and stress reduction involved. Regular sessions of Tai Chi can help reduce anxiety, improve moods, and enhance our overall well-being. 

Do You Need to Incorporate Exercise into Your Daily Routine? 

In addition to the list above, there are many forms of exercise that can help us cope with midlife stress and anxiety. Remember, it is essential not to be afraid of introducing physical activity into your life. Starting slowly and building up to the bigger stuff is always the best way. Once we begin a physical fitness journey, our overall physical and mental well-being will begin to feel dramatically enhanced. Over time, it is possible to feel the best we have ever felt. At Movewell Health & Fitness, we specialise in helping those over 35 reach their fitness aspirations and improve their mental and physical health. Offering a range of sessions at different fitness levels led by qualified fitness instructors, we stand firm as one of your best opportunities to tackle midlife stress and anxiety. Get in touch to find out how we can help.