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Ask the Expert: Military Personal Trainer on the Effects of Stress Relief on Exercise

written by: Angela Atkinson • edited by: KJ Fitness,Ink • updated: 4/21/2009

Studies show that exercise can reduce stress levels. Learn what NASM Certified personal trainer David Hansey has to say on the subject.

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    About the Expert

    David Hansey is a board certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine(NASM). He spent 15 years in the Army and Marine Corps training soldiers for combat. He also holds an advanced certification through the NASM as a Performance Enhancement Specialist. He has clients of all ages and goals, including weight management, rehabilitation and sports training. Learn more about David at his website,

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    Interview with the Expert

    Bright Hub: We've all heard that exercise can help us to relieve stress. If we were your clients, what would you tell us about exercising to relieve stress?

    David Hansey: Fatigue, stress and exhaustion are a big circle. Exercise helps to relieve all of these but it is one of the first things people drop off their schedule when they are stressed or tired. The cycle has to be broken in order to actually reduce stress and feel more energized. An honest look at your schedule to see where you can fit in some activity and choosing things that enjoy will help you get in the routine.

    Bright Hub: Is there a certain amount of exercise that works better for stress relief?

    David Hansey: I suggest an hour of activity daily for general health and stress relief. This does not mean an hour of hardcore exercise unless you like that. It means activity.

    Bright Hub: So what do you recommend to your clients who don’t enjoy long workouts?

    David Hansey: A walk with your kids for 20 minutes, walking to get lunch at work for 15 minutes and 25 minutes of cardio or tennis or swimming, for example. That is an hour of activity. So mix it up…or do it all at once, just make it something that you like and something that works for you.

    Bright Hub: What type of exercise do you recommend to your clients who need stress relief?

    David Hansey: As far as type of exercise, I really want my clients to do something they enjoy. If you're a runner, run. If not, don't run because you will not stick with it. If hiking with your kids or walking on the treadmill watching TV is more to your liking, that is what you should do.

    If you can't stick to a schedule, don't do exercise classes because you will never go. If you love structure and being with a group, find a class you like.

    Bright Hub: What about diet? Can it affect our stress levels?

    David Hansey: Nobody wants to hear about diet but it is critical for well-being and for stress control.

    Bright Hub: Do you have suggestions for improving our diets to reduce stress?

    David Hansey: Comfort foods and caffeine can cause those stress cycles that just keep you spinning out of control. Whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein sources are natural and your body will run better on those than it will on processed food and sugar. Diet is not just about weight loss, although most people who start eating better also find that they do lose weight.

    Bright Hub: What other suggestions or tips would you offer to a client seeking stress relief?

    David Hansey: First, don't smoke. If you do, quit. It is an unhealthy habit that not only increases your stress levels but ends your life prematurely.

    Second, understand that stress and the poor habits that go with it lead to many serious health complications. I always suggest that someone who is experiencing stress visit their doctor. Stress puts pressure on all of the systems in your body—including your heart and blood pressure. It also causes people to eat poorly and avoid exercise. This behavior leads to health issues like weight gain and diabetes. So if you have been living a life full of stress and poor habits, you need to see your doctor.

    Bright Hub: Any final words of wisdom?

    David Hansey: Adopting a new lifestyle whether to get in shape, lose weight or reduce stress can be hard to undertake on your own. Use the help of a good team of professionals. While not everyone can afford a personal trainer several times a week, you can benefit from purchasing a few sessions with one to get a strength training routine and a written plan to help you meet your goals. Same goes for medical professionals like doctors and dietitians. Use the pros to help you get your plan together and then use your family and friends to form a support culture that gets all of you living a more healthy life.

Ask the Expert

Learn what the experts have to say about your health and fitness. This series offers informative interviews with health and fitness authorities on subjects that matter to you.
  1. Ask the Expert: Military Personal Trainer on the Effects of Stress Relief on Exercise
  2. Weight Management in Congestive Heart Failure: Interview With Expert, PJ Striet