Exercise has big benefits during times of stress

By Jaime Greene

Director of Business & Membership, YMCA

Many members of our community are facing financial struggles that can put them and their families under a lot of physical and emotional stress. Now more than ever, it's important to make sure exercise is part of our daily routines. Even a short walk or swim can help reduce the negative effects of stress.

Research has proven the important role of exercise in combating stress and reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Even moderate physical activity can produce mood-boosting endorphins, clear the mind, improve focus and positively affect blood pressure and other symptoms of stress.

The YMCA encourages members of the community to make physical activity a priority, especially during tough times, and offers a few simple tips:

Make an “exercise transition” between work and family time. Take a short walk after work or before kids get home from school to clear away the stress of the day and get a positive boost before interacting with family members. A little “me time” can have a positive influence on “us time.”

Find an enjoyable physical activity that requires some mental focus to steer the mind away from worries - a pick-up game of basketball, a tennis match or even jumping rope.

Instead of going online to repeatedly check the balance of your 401k, check out training plans for a 5k run or walk and get family and friends engaged to reach a healthy and achievable goal.

Visit the YMCA or your local community center and find affordable family activities such as family swim nights, dance classes and walking groups just to name a few. At the YMCA, financial assistance is available to make programs available to all.

For information about charter memberships for the new Coal Creek YMCA opening fall 2009 in Newcastle, visit www.seattleymca.org/coalcreek or call 425.644.8417 or to learn more Bellevue Family YMCA visit www.bellevueymca.org or call 425.746.9900.