Exercise: a prescription for stress

By Dr. Robert J. Muhammad | Last updated: Apr 14, 2015 - 8:30:06 AM

What's your opinion on this article?

Dr. Robert J. Muhammad
According to the report on Stress in America, published by the American Psychological Association, those surveyed reported the top stressors in their life in order of severity. The top 6 stressors are:

1) money
2) work
3) the economy
4) job stability
5) family responsibilities
6) relationships

Stress is the mind and body’s response to a real and/or imagined threat. Anxiety is an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear, often associated with sweating, tension, and an increased heart rate.

Signs that you may be stressed include:

1) inability to concentrate
2) insomnia
3) weight loss or gain
4) high blood pressure
5) teeth grinding
6) nail biting
7) headaches
8) social withdrawal
9) mood swings
10) depression
11) chest pain
12) unexplained anger
13) anxiety
14) rapid heartbeat

Stress-related medications, anti-depressants, anxiety medications, and a host of other drugs are prescribed annually at staggering costs. Anti-depressant prescriptions account for $11 billion in annual income to pharmaceutical companies, and anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications rank fifth and tenth respectively, of all drugs prescribed in the United States.

Though exercise is not a silver bullet and no substitute for a proper relationship with Almighty God, Allah, which brings balance, harmony and peace into our lives, it is a tool to better manage and reduce it.

Exercise aids in combating stress because it helps to eliminate stress from the body. If we purchased a car for $100,000, we wouldn’t hesitate to follow the maintenance recommendations to the letter in an effort to protect the life and performance of the car. Well, our health and longevity are more valuable and of greater importance than the maintenance of the finest automobile. Exercise, helps to ensure that all of our body’s systems are operating at their best. When your automobile is properly maintained, it operates better also.


According to the Harvard Journal of Medicine, “the mental benefits of aerobic exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers and mood elevators.” And according to the American College of Sports Medicine, “twenty-five minutes of moderate exercise creates a rise in mood enhancing neurotransmitters and a feel good afterglow that can last up to twelve hours.”

Begin a stress-busting exercise regimen, a regimen that will moderately increase your heart rate for 20 to 30 minutes, 3-5 times per week. Walking, Zumba, jogging, swimming, and cycling are excellent forms of cardiovascular exercise.

Make certain to check with your doctor to make sure all of your body’s systems receive the green light (smile).

Dr. Robert J. Muhammad is Clinic Director of the Midwest Back Center of Chicago. He can be reached at  (877) 321-4040 or (773) 873-5000.