Don't exercise 'angry'

I’ve always thought that exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress. But I’ve also believed it’s not a good idea to workout when you’re so angry you’re ready to blow a gasket.

Like after going through voice-mail hell trying to get a "customer service specialist" at a phone company to get rid of a charge that should never have appeared on your bill had the "service technician specialist" done the job right the first time, like you asked.

Or maybe you had a spat with your spouse.

Don’t go exercise. At least not right away. You might pull a hamstring, and have to limp home, grimacing with every step, only to realize that one of those "I-told-you-so" smiles would greet you as you tried to walk normally through the front door.

I was reminded of that theory when I caught a headline on our health site yesterday: Anger speeds decline in lung function: study.

The story says that middle-aged men with longstanding anger and hostility show a faster age-related decline in lung power. Earlier studies had shown that mood changes can have short-term effects on the lungs.

But this study, in the British medical journal Thorax (you have to respect a publication that can use the word "sputum" twice in the titles of its articles), found that chronic anger can permanently mess your immune system and produce chronic inflammation.

Of course, people who exercise regularly are hardly ever angry, or at least are better equipped to handle it, or so the theory goes.

Studies have found that exercise significantly reduces electrical activity in tense muscles as soon as your workout ends. You become less jittery and less hyperactive. The endorphin rush can last for up to two hours after a workout.

And you do tend to feel better about yourself no matter what that "customer service specialist" hiding behind the protective petticoats of that voice-mail firewall and the made-up-on-the-fly company policy had to say about it.