Monday, October 4, 2010

Working Hard for the Money

I am a personal trainer and have the opportunity to meet and work with a variety of different people every day of my life.  I enjoy being able to improve people’s lifestyles and be able to encourage them in making their lives better through physical activity.  People who come to me generally want an escape from their everyday lives.  For an hour out of their day, I am that time away from work, family, bills, household chores, or whatever else they have on their minds. 
One of my clients is a financial manager working long hours.  With such great responsibility comes a large amount stress.  Each session we have together she tells me how stressed she is and that working out with me helps to keep her mind off of the everyday stressors accumulating at the office.  It is my responsibility to be sure to incorporate stress management and emotional control techniques into our sessions together. 
Stress is a huge part of all of our everyday lives and has a large impact on our health and well-beings.  Mental stress, also known as psychosocial stressors, account for about 40% of the overall heart attack risk as well as comparable risks of other medical conditions and diseases (Esch, Duckstein, Welke, Stefano, & Braun, 2007). 
Knowing some of the negative effects stress can have on a person has led many researchers to develop various strategies and techniques in order to improve the side effects.  These therapies and techniques are keyed into relieving and coping with stressors without necessarily avoiding or getting rid of them (Esch, Duckstein, Welke, Stefano, & Braun, 2007).   
It has been known for quite some time now that physical activity and exercise is a beneficial way of coping with stress and improving one’s lifestyle.  In fact, the Public Health Report (1985) supports that physical activity and exercise can help to alleviate symptoms of depression, improve self confidence, self esteem, and social skills, reduce symptoms of anxiety, and may alter aspects of the stress response. 
Lazarus & Folkman’s (1984) stress and coping research helped to support that stress can be prevented and reduced through either emotionally focused stress management techniques or problem focused stress management techniques (Bond, & Bunce, 2000).  The emotion focused intervention will increase her ability to cope with workplace stressors and the problem focused techniques will allow her to be able to identify and alleviate stressors that raise her stress levels. 
All of our sessions will contain either aerobic or anaerobic exercises, while alternating with strength training exercises as well as the application of stress management techniques and emotional control skills.  At the end of each session, we will incorporate a cool down phase.  Within this phase we will be able to work on breathing exercises and other relaxation exercises as well as imagery in order for complete relaxation before returning to the stressors of her hectic everyday life.  I may even suggest for her to enroll in some sort of either yoga or tai chi class in order to achieve thorough relaxation
According to Gill & Williams (2008), stress management techniques are great psychological skills, and emotional control skills are able to enhance the physical activity experience as well as life skills.  Through each session with me, she will not only achieve high levels of physical activity, but she will also come away feeling better and improving her lifestyle in order to overcome her workplace stressors she has to tend to. 
Bond, F.W., & Bunce, D. (2000). Mediators of change in emotion-focused and problem-focused. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 5(1), 156-163. Retrieved from doi: 10.1037//1076-8998.5.1.156
Esch, T., Duckstein, J., Welke, J., Stefano, G., & Braun, V. (2007). Mind/body techniques for physiological and psychological stress reduction: stress management via tai chi training – a pilot study. Medical Science Monitor, 13(11), 488-497. Retrieved from doi: N/A
Gill, D., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise. pp. 196-202. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Taylor, B., Sallis, J.F., & Needle, R. (1985). Physical activity and exercise to achieve health-related physical fitness components. Public Health Reports, 100(2), 195-202. Retrieved from doi: N/A

1 comment:

  1. I think it is important as movement professionals that we help others understand that exercise and physical activity is a way to relieve stress. Additionally, when we work with others we can teach them other ways to manage stress, which is so important in our busy world.