At its core, stress is not a bad thing; we feel stress and show symptoms of stress as a defense mechanism, our body’s way of protecting ourselves. When we feel stressed or in danger, our body responds by activating the sympathetic nervous system, more commonly known as our fight, flight, or freeze response: our body releases a flood of hormones like epinephrine and cortisol that start a chain reaction. Our eyes dilate, our blood pressure skyrockets, our heart rate quickens, and our liver releases a burst of glycogen that is converted into glucose to give your muscles quick energy to do one of those “Fs” listed above.
In the world of our ancestors, we would feel stress because we would be facing true danger, like an attacker. We would sense conflict, feel stress, and our sympathetic system would take over. We would run, sweat, use our fast heart rate, and literally exercise out the cortisol and extra glucose. However, our stressors these days are far more subtle than a mountain lion staring us down. And when we feel stressed, we tend not to jump up and do some burpees. However, that’s exactly what we should be doing. High intensity cardio work, like boxing, increases the release of our parasympathetic, or rest and digest, hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, endocannabinoids, and endorphins. These words sound aggressive, but they are extremely beneficial for increasing our mood, decreasing anxiety, decreasing body aches, and improving our sleep.
Boxing also helps with anger management. Rather than sitting and stewing with extra glucose and cortisol in your body, try getting up and punching out a few rounds. Not only will you activate those good-feeling hormones, but you’ll also be teaching yourself a new healthy way to cope with anger and stress.
So next time you’re seeing red, or you feel the overwhelming dread and defeat of a stressful day (week, month, or even year!) lace up, glove up, and turn on your LB. Even if it’s just one song or a full trainer-led workout, we promise you’ll leave the platform feeling better than when you went in.