by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
It’s National Stress Awareness Month. Here are the best workouts for stress relief …
You may not feel the urge to break into exercise in the middle of a stressful event. (Unless, of course, you can spontaneously begin kickboxing.) However, a commitment to exercise can build resilience toward stressors, helping you better manage stress when it does strike.
The mind enjoys a better sense of peace when operating in a regularly exercised body. You even may find stress becomes a challenge, sort of like that new equipment on the Fitness Floor. You’ll be stimulated to tackle and proceed.
Want to Lose Weight?
Along with a plethora of other health issues, stress can cause weight gain. Healthy stress management helps avoid stress’ contribution to health risks like high blood pressure, heart disease, insomnia, stomach issues, diabetes, mental health conditions—and, yes, unhealthy weight and obesity. About 75% to 90% of all doctor office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
During a stressful day, a workout can provide the relief you crave. It also helps avoid unhealthy stress-relievers like cigarette smoking and alcohol.
Go for an intense cardio or strength-training workout. Leave it all on the Fitness Floor! Focus on your movements and muscles. Be empowered by the sweat.
As you heat up, your mind will cool off. At that point, you may want to insert some low-intensity intervals to keep it going. Burn off all the stress, along with some calories! (It’ll allow that piece of dark chocolate for further stress relief. Though, that’s not a scientifically proven fact—yet.)
Exercise helps manage a stressful episode or day, as well as maintain overall healthy stress levels. The best exercises for continuous stress relief include ones that clear your mind or allow your brain to create solutions for your stressors.
Pilates, yoga, T’ai Chi, and swimming are some of the top stress-relieving workouts. Each brings attention to your breathing and focuses on mind-body awareness. The repetitive nature of swimming (breathe, stroke) and similar types of exercise are meditative in nature. They provide a little vacation for your brain.
Fast-paced exercise, like tennis or circuit training, similarly engages your mind. Although not therapeutically repetitive, these activities demand your attention. Focusing on your next move or workout station keeps your mind from wandering. They provide a little playtime for your brain.
When done mindfully, any type of exercise helps reduce stress. By concentrating on your body’s movements, you become distracted from irritations and worries. Focusing solely on the execution of your movements, your mind gains a respite. You likely finish your workout energized and more optimistic. The endorphins released during exercise also help by cheering on a sunny disposition. This positivity repels stress and its negative influences.
Tips for Exercising When under Stress
If stress has your heart rate revved and your body charged, be careful not to overdo it. The emotionally charged adrenaline rushing through your body can make it difficult to accurately judge your limits. Don’t add more stress by incurring an injury.
If stress has you down or overwhelmed, trick yourself into a workout. Commit to doing a half-session or partial workout. Give yourself 20 minutes. You’ll likely want to continue. Still seem impossible? Don’t bother with the workout clothes or formal routine. Lace up sneakers and walk or hit the stairs a few times. Return to life refreshed.
Always warm up. Tension has a way of seeping into muscles and joints. Exercising a body rigid from stress can cause injuries or excess soreness. Once warmed up, take extra time for stretches and deep breathing.
Treat yourself to a hot soak, massage, or aromatherapy after exercise. Enhance the stress relief you just gained. You deserve it.
Have a hearty laugh. Laughter increases feel-good hormones and decreases stress hormones. One hundred good laughs a day can deliver the same cardio results as exercising for 10 minutes. Plus, it feels great!
Any workout can help relieve stress. Even simple, unstructured activity can reduce the impact of stress. Move to soothe! Get back in control of your body and mind, regardless of how out of control your outer world appears.
Scale and tape measure: www.flickr.com/photos/lifementalhealthpics/8406187252/