Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Effect of exercise on perceived stress"?

I have been exercising regularly (several times a week, at least a half hour of cardio and about 45 minutes of horizontal exercise, abs etc.) for about 6 months now. 
Yeah, I lost some weight. Yeah, my size shrank. A lot actually. No, I'll never be athletic. I'll never "look" thin or fit or muscular. But I do have to say, I feel way better. Waaaaaaaaaaay better. Shocking, I know... 

Not physically. I do not feel better physically. I never felt bad in the first place, physically. I always felt fine physically, even when I weighed 50 pounds more than I do now. 

I don't feel stronger, or more coordinated, or more powerful, or that I have more endurance for life. Yes, I can last longer on a treadmill or whatever (as long as there is a TV set in front of it), but not for regular life.  

I can't really do more stuff.. What I can do, now, though, is stew less about the stuff that there is to do. I have different feelings about the mess that is life. 

My attitude is better. I am more dispassionate about dealing with what needs to be done. I feel less helpless in the face of it all. I feel less despondent about how, realistically, none of it probably matters now, or will in the future. Not even a pick. After I die I will be gone, that's all there is to it. No lasting dint on the world. And that's all fine by me, on every level of myself. On as many levels as I can currently perceive, at least. 

All that matters is what's right in front of my nose, to be done either Right Now, or Soon. Until my long range plans show up inside that front-of-the-nose zone, I don't care. Not anymore. 

I've lowered the pressure I put on myself somehow. For now at least. I don't gaze around at the rest of my life, a landscape littered with "Stuff that Must be Taken Care of Before the Final Croak" and worry over what course to plot to get as much done as I can. I seem to have just started to move out in any old random direction, and do whatever there is right in front of me, there. Which opens a path to the next Thing That Must be Done. Then the next after that. I'm letting the path emerge of its own accord instead of feeling I must be solely responsible for planning, controlling, and executing it. I don't care. Whatever happens will happen. It will all be fine. Nothing really matters anyway. 
(It would be nice if this turned itself into "don't worry, be happy", but I'm fine if that never happens. Just getting from where I was to here feels like progress. I know I can't have it All, and I've always been OK with that.) 

Some internal friction that used to annoy the bejeebers out of me, though, seems to have simply...  disappeared. Moving more, is now/has become, a mental and emotional habit, not just a physical habit. Exercise helped me move off the 'mood' square I used to be stuck on. 

I googled "effect of exercise on perceived stress" and for 2012 alone there are 28,900 papers in google scholar. One would have to weed carefully, of course, and toss out all papers that did not specifically link exercise specifically to reduction of specific "perceived" stress - this is what a true-blue scholar would have to do, which I do not pretend to be, as I'm not trying to earn a PhD or anything..  still, there is a whole ball park to be explored, just for fun maybe. Maybe in some other lifetime. 

TEDxBayArea - KellyMcGonigal - The Science of Willpower

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