By far the most important component of any emotional management program is an ongoing exercise program. Being physically fit pays handsome dividends to those who seek and demand personal excellence. This is because of exercise's unique ability to almost "inoculate" a person with a certain degree of immunity to stress.
Exercise is very effective in reducing anxiety, although precisely how this occurs is not fully understood. Some researchers believe exercise satisfies the evolutionary need of humans to engage in large-muscle, physically aggressive activity. Primitive humans frequently practiced this form of adaptive behavior, but in our sedentary, civilized lifestyle there
are fewer outlets for behavior of this sort.
Certainly, one of the benefits of exercise, and perhaps one often overlooked by medical researchers, is that exercise takes one's mind off of the event that produced the negative emotion in the first place. Exercisers report that it's extremely difficult to concentrate on the negative event while participating in an intense workout.
My own research with my clients has shown that the physiological response of fit people to life's stressors is superior to that of the unfit. For example, several studies have shown that people with low levels of aerobic fitness experience greater cardiovascular stress than people with higher levels of fitness. The heart rates of the less-fit test subjects increased by nearly thirty beats per minute more than the heart rates of highly fit subjects when faced with a stressor.
Another study showed that physically fit subjects had significantly reduced psychosocial stress responses to various stressors as compared to their less-physically-fit counterparts. In plain language, what this says is that physically fit people perform better, both physiologically and psychologically, when faced with stressful situations—and it is in stressful situations that true excellence tends to be manifested. Moreover, some studies have demonstrated that fitness plays a vital role in the
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ability to recover from stressful events, both mental and physical.
According to the results of several recent experiments, the great stressors of life, such as those measured in the Holmes Stress Test, simply don't seem to impact the lives of physically fit people the way they do the unfit. A four-year study of corporate managers showed, for example, that physical fitness seemed to buffer the impact of the typical ill effects caused by stress.
Many other studies confirm these results, suggesting that being physically fit reduces the effects of stress. Similar outcomes have been reported among those who regularly engage in exercise, whether they are super physically fit or not. In practical terms, this means that regular exercise is like a soothing tonic that can be taken to produce results that are almost immediate as well as to provide long-term immunity to stress.
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Use the same methods the American Navy Seals use to get fit and become the elite enforcers in the world today! The Navy SEAL Physical Fitness Guide has been prepared for the SEAL community with several goals in mind. Our objective is to provide you, the operator, with information to help: Enhance the physical abilities required to perform Special Operations mission-related physical tasks Promote long-term cardiovascular health and physical fitness Prevent injuries and accelerate return to duty Maintain physical readiness under deployed or embarked environments.