Can Exercise Ease the Grieving Process?

No matter how hard any of us try, we can’t avoid the necessary grief that comes with living.  While everyone handles grief differently, a consistent exercise program can help with the unwelcome feelings associated with grief.  Recent research suggests that exercising, either alone or with others, can help your mind begin to process your feelings and ease you through the process of grief.screen-shot-2017-05-09-at-8-05-55-am

  • A consistent exercise routine allows you to regain some sense of control. Whether you’re grieving the loss of a relationship or a loved one, it can be difficult to manage your life when it’s difficult even to get out of bed.  There is so much happening that is out of your control, but by sweating through a thirty minute workout, you can exercise control over that thirty minutes of your day.  That thirty minutes can allow you to regain sense of control over the other areas of your life like work, personal relationships, and your home.
  • Exercise repairs your immune system which is often compromised during stressful times, including those times that you experience grief. The University of North Texas ound that the nervous system of the body responds to grief as a physical attack on the body, weakening your immune system and making it more difficult to ward off germs.  Adding thirty minutes of exercise each day during stressful periods reduces your odds of getting sick by fifty percent.
  • Exercise requires that you be focused on the present. Instead of grieving the past or worrying about the future, exercise requires that you lock into the present moment to give your body what it needs and avoid injury.  Instead of mindlessly going through the motions during your exercise routine, give your mind a break from the grief by focusing on each step, each arm movement, each breath until you finish your workout.  The temporary change from being focused on your grief to being focused on a healthy activity allows you to see that better times are ahead and grief doesn’t have to hurt forever.
  • Move in a way that feels right to your body while you grieve. Grief can cause physical symptoms throughout your body, making it difficult to sleep and interrupting your desire to eat.  Instead of pushing yourself to the extreme ends of exercise, consider backing off and just move.  Allow your body to move and accept the effort you’re able to give at any given moment, even if that isn’t a killer cardio session.
  • The reason exercise makes you feel better is biochemistry. Physical exercise increases blood flow to your brain, allowing the brain to function at its best.  If grief leaves you feeling foggy, confused, or with difficulty concentrating, exercise may help alleviate those symptoms.  The release of the biochemicals that are released by exercise (endorphins and dopamine) can also help prevent clinical depression from setting in as you grieve.

If you’ve turned to exercise to cope with grief, share your recommendations in the comment section for other FitClub members.  Exercising in a supportive community can help alleviate the necessary feelings we all must weather from time to time.

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