The World Health Organization (WHO) regards stress as “the health epidemic of the 21st century”. Everyone experiences stress from time to time. It’s true, not everybody experiences it the same way, but the symptoms are there.
Stress is inevitable, but this doesn’t mean you should just give up and let it control your life. There are numerous things you can do to fight back. Listening to music, talking to someone close or to a specialist, practicing meditation, making time for your hobbies… these can all help. But one of the best ways to reduce stress is through physical activity. Physical activity can help you not only get back into shape, but also let go of your worries, calm down and relax.
Here’s a list of exercises designed to effectively relieve stress:
If you didn’t know it, you can and should use walking for stress relief. This is a truly easy form of exercise, that can generate essential mental health benefits. As opposed to other types of workouts, this one doesn’t require special abilities or equipment, signing up for a class or paying a membership fee. Walking is absolutely free and can be done anywhere.
Research has shown that walking can efficiently combat stress. Scientists have demonstrated that, during this activity, we are able to release an important number of endorphins. Endorphins are the chemicals our bodies produce to help us cope with pain. They play a fundamental role in reducing stress and anxiety and improving our overall mood. Another study showed that taking a 20-minute walk in the middle of nature has the power to substantially lower our stress hormone levels.
If you want to incorporate walking into your daily life, we recommend that you start keeping track of your walks. You can use either a fitness tracker or a pedometer app like our own ActivityTracker. Tracking your physical activity can turn out to be useful in various ways. It will provide you access to a series of fitness metrics, such as the steps taken, calories burned, distance covered or active time. At the same time, it will allow you to set your own goals and find the motivation to stay active until you reach them. Moreover, seeing your accomplishments will most surely improve your self-esteem and help you feel much better about yourself.
Yoga is one of the best stress-relieving workouts you can try. This is a mind-body exercise that can significantly improve your overall health. Through its variety of postures, yoga can improve your strength and flexibility, balance and coordination, can reduce chronic pain and help you keep your heart healthy and sleep better at night.
But, as we initially said, this is also a great exercise for the mind. One of the reasons yoga has become so popular has to do with its abilities to relax the mind and ease anxiety and stress. This discipline combines stretching with breathing exercises and meditation to create the perfect harmony between the body and the mind. There are studies clearly indicating that yoga can considerably reduce the levels of cortisol, the main stress hormone, and aid us deal with anxiety and depression.
Pilates is a low-intensity workout that comes with a multitude of health benefits if practiced on a regular basis. Pilates involves slow-paced movements and breathing techniques and is designed to improve your muscular strength, flexibility and stability. This exercise has the power to reduce blood pressure, improve lung functions, as well as boost your immune system.
But Pilates is not all about the body. It can have powerful effects on the mind as well. If you’re feeling stressed and anxious, integrating this physical activity into your schedule may turn out to be an inspired decision. According to the The Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, practicing Pilates is a great way to relax the mind. This type of workout stimulates the activity of the parasympathetic system, which is the one responsible for counteracting the production of stress and adrenaline.
Practicing martial arts can also be a good method to release tension from your entire body and calm your stressed-out mind. There are multiple disciplines available, from tai chi to karate, judo or tae kwon do. Tai chi for instance is considered one of the best stress-relieving exercises, due to its ability to harmoniously mix gentle, slow-paced movements and deep breathing.
Martial arts in general are truly beneficial to both the body and the mind. Due to the nature of the exercise, they can help you improve your flexibility and reflexes, burn calories and lose weight, boost your cardiovascular health and keep your blood pressure under control. In addition, practicing martial arts will help you acquire useful self-defense skills, develop self-discipline and improve self-confidence.
Are you looking to blow off some steam? Then why not lift weights? This can turn out to be an inspired decision from different perspectives. First of all, as you would expect, lifting weights is great for the body. This activity will help you build muscles, burn excessive fat, strengthen your bones, regulate blood sugar levels and more.
At the same time, strength training can help you build self confidence and alleviate stress. And this is scientifically proven. A study has shown that this type of workout can have a direct positive impact on our mental health. According to the findings, strength training carried out a low-to-moderate intensity can generate a truly reliable and efficient decrease in anxiety.
If you’re looking for fun exercises to relieve stress, it’s good to know there are numerous alternatives at your disposal. Basketball, beach volleyball, football, soccer, tennis (singles or doubles), these are all sports that can have a truly positive influence on both the body and the mind. You get a full-body workout and, at the same time, let go of your worries and have lots of fun.
According to a study published in the The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, team sports can reduce stress and improve the overall quality of life much more than individual workouts. Other findings suggest the same thing: being part of a team and actively participating in team sports may generate more health benefits in comparison to individual training.
Cycling is an aerobic type of exercise, optimal for improving your overall fitness level and health. Riding your bike on a constant basis can lead to an increased cardiovascular fitness, stronger muscles and bones, better flexibility and mobility, as well as improved posture and coordination. Of course, cycling is not limited to physical benefits.
Going for a bike ride can also be an effective stress management treatment. You can go on a lovely biking trail, in the middle of nature, but also use your bike on a daily basis, as a commuting mode. According to a research conducted by the Concordia University, cycling to work can reduce stress and lead to a better work performance.