On the morning after the 2016 presidential election, I awoke pretty drained. The events of election night led me to drink and drink kind of hard, which didn’t do my sleep cycle any favors.
Needless to say, I debated going to the gym when I awoke, which is a major part of my routine. I went, feet dragging, unsure of what I was going to focus on when I got there — cardio, strength or both. The gym was full and strangely somber. Everyone was going about their circuits in more silence than usual.
I worked through some reps on the pull-up bar, talking to a fellow gym-goer between them — a moment of solidarity with a stranger that actually was rather soothing. Then I hit the treadmill and sweated out my worries (and hops) on a high-intensity interval run. I felt better.
Turns out there’s a scientific reason for that: a new study done in Sweden stress-tested 6,000 people using exercise to monitor various levels of stress alongside their blood pressure, cholesterol and mental clarity. They selected folks going through life issues (divorce, family deaths, etc) and folks who were super busy, as well as those who weren’t stressed. The tests determined that exercise increases endorphins that help lower your risk of cardiovascular issues, which can largely be a function of anxiety.
So next time you’re stressed at work, or have life issues, or think you just watched the beginning of the end of the world as you know it, go to the gym. Make time for it. It’ll literally make time for you (as in, you’ll live longer).
It might not solve the world’s problems, but you’ll be better suited to physically and mentally confront them.