Fitness

20 Easy Exercises to Help Reduce Stress

12. Circuit training requires moving through multiple exercise stations to work for different muscle groups with little to no rest in between stations. Each station focuses… Trista - December 6, 2020

Circuit training helps to get your heart rate up, strengthen your muscle, and reduce your stress levels all at the same time. Shutterstock

12. Circuit training requires moving through multiple exercise stations to work for different muscle groups with little to no rest in between stations. Each station focuses on a different exercise. 

You may wonder how, as a fast-paced exercise, how circuit training reduces stress. Circuit training alternates between weight-training movements with cardio. You will have little to no rest in between each move to get your heart rate up. It targets multiple areas, including the core, arms, legs, glutes, and back. Each different movement or station will target one of these muscle groups. You’ll complete about 10 to 25 reps at each station that last between 30 seconds and three minutes before moving onto the next station. If you’re looking to make things a little more interesting, you can switch up the sequence or swap out different stations. You can also complete circuit training at a gym with equipment or at home with dumbbells and resistance bands, so it truly can be done anywhere.

Try to push yourself but start slowly. After you are comfortable with the exercises, switch from station to station faster. You could also boost the intensity to make the movements more challenging. You’ll receive a high-intensity workout that offers the same benefits of longer exercise sessions in a shorter amount of time. The short and sweet exercise increases your endorphin levels, which will improve your mood. There is no equipment required, and it can be an appealing option as it can also be free if you use exercises that use your body weight, such as push-ups or planks. You can create your own circuit that is right for you, even if you’re just starting.

If your joints are up to it, try picking up your walking pace for even more anxiety release by jogging or running. Shutterstock

11. Jogging or running allows your body to release feel-good endorphins, which help combat stress in your life. 

Stress comes in two forms – acute and long-term. Both can have some negative impacts on your body. Acute stress comes on suddenly and typically doesn’t last very long. Anything can trigger it. Your brain, lungs, heart, immune system, and digestive system become heightened in response to the trigger that caused your stress. Long-term, or chronic, stress is even more detrimental to your health. Over time, your heart may have to work overtime, and your immune system might weaken. If you experience a stressful and hectic life, jogging or running can be your friend.

Psychologically speaking, running allows you to have some time alone with your thoughts, helping you work through a situation. Aside from being happier due to being in better shape and feeling good, your body will release the feel-good endorphins as a result. The feel-good hormones are an opioid chemical that the body uses to help offset the pain. They also help slow the aging process, relieve stress and anxiety, and enhance the immune system. Running or jogging can release a flood of these endorphins. There are a lot of psychological benefits to achieving your physical goals. The next time you feel stressed, put on your running shoes and hit the road by either jogging or running for about 20 minutes. You may be left shocked at how much it helps with your stress levels.

One of the first and significant signs of stress is tensed muscles. Shutterstock

10. Progressive muscle relaxation is one of the best and easiest exercises to reduce stress and muscle stiffness. 

This simple exercise is, in a way, a step ahead of deep breathing. While deep breathing forces us to focus on breathing alone, muscle relaxation calms all muscles down. To effectively practice progressive muscle relaxation, it’s crucial that you first find a quiet and comfortable environment to lay down. The process of muscle relaxation involves three simple steps. The first step consists of the tightening of the muscle group. Next, you focus on maintaining the contraction for about 20 seconds. Lastly, you slowly release the tightening. While performing all three of these steps, it is essential that you also are continually practicing deep breathing and focusing on the muscles being tensed and relaxed.

If you’re new to this exercise, you can start with your facial muscles and then slowly progress down the body to your toes. The ideal chronology is your forehead, eyes, nose, tongue, face, jaws, neck, back, all the way down to your feet. To get the best results possible, it is recommended you either record instructions or download the ones available online and then carry forward the progressive exercise to reduce stress. You can also use an audio recording to help you focus on each muscle group or learn the order of muscle groups and do the exercises from memory. When your body is physically relaxed, you cannot feel anxious. Practicing progressive muscle relaxation for a few weeks can help you get better at this skill and, in time, can be used to alleviate stress.

Pilates is a well-known exercise to reduce stress that has gained much recognition to get fit and lead a stress-free life. Shutterstock

9. Pilates can aid in reducing both the signs of anxiety and stress. It is a series of exercises that focuses on flexibility, improving postures and heightening mental awareness.

A series of controlled movements and mat exercises, Pilates is designed to build strength, flexibility, and endurance. All of these contribute to Pilates being a great stress reliever. Pilates effectively release tension in the muscles while also using breathing techniques and ultimately providing more oxygen to the brain. The increased supply of oxygen helps promote calmness and overall well-being. Pilates can also tone your body and increase your confidence by releasing endorphins that work to reduce stress. By focusing on strengthening and lengthening muscles, Pilates illuminates a harmony that helps block out stressors in your life. Similar to yoga, Pilates requires serious mental concentration that leaves minimal mental capacity for worrying.

If you’re new to Pilates, you can take classes at a studio or gym until you become more familiar with doing it independently. Once you’re comfortable with the exercises, you can use DVDs and home equipment if you prefer to exercise in the comfort of your own home. Many people with stress experience pain in their muscles and especially in their back and neck. Pilates can reduce both back and neck pain that is brought out by stress. Doctors recommend that you do Pilates a few times a week; moreover, that you block off between 30 and 45 minutes for each session.

Swimming is a full-body workout that is great for the cardiovascular system and reduces stress. Shutterstock

8. In addition to the physical benefits, swimming offers stress relief, promotes a healthy brain, and aids in lowering anxiety and depression. 

Swimming is a fun and effective way to relieve stress. Being in contact with water itself has been proven to help loosen up both the body and mind. Studies have shown that swimming can help generate new brain cells in the brain where chronic stress has led to cell deterioration. Being immersed in water boosts the blood flow to the brain. In turn, this increases the supply of oxygen, glucose, and nutrients, which would appear to have a positive impact on our brain health. Regular swimming, even just a half-hour at a time, is useful for lowering depression and anxiety incidences. You can also positively impact your sleep patterns.

Like many other exercises, swimming releases endorphins, which lead us to experience a greater sense of happiness and well-being. Being immersed in water has shown to be incredibly soothing for some individuals and can make for an even better stress reduction. While in water, it is essential to pay close attention to your technique as you practice your swimming. Notice the regular rhythm of your strokes. That can have a very relaxing, almost meditative effect on the mind. Furthermore, swimming might enhance our ability to process stress more efficiently.

When you get stressed, do you ever feel the urge to hit something? Shutterstock

7. Boxing can be a great option to burn off stress, anger, and other intense emotions. 

Boxing is an exercise option that increases muscular stature and physical strength and helps balance the mind. This sport can relieve combat stress while simultaneously gaining mental strength. Boxing offers users stress relief through meditative punching. The goal of meditation is to focus on nothing but breathing in the here and now. Boxing can trigger the same type of static-blocking mediation, and less static equals less stress. Sometimes you don’t even have to have something to be upset about to need some sort of emotional release. The emotional release of punching, moving, and sweating can help clean the mind, body, and soul, much like a reset button.

Physical exercise is proven to stimulate the release of endorphins, which helps create a positive feeling in the body. Boxing will also help to reduce stress by encouraging better sleep. People who achieve adequate quality and quantity of sleep are more likely to reach REM sleep, which allows the brain to reorganize and positively process memories. This act subconsciously decreases stress. For someone who experiences consistent stress levels, boxing can also serve as a form of anger management and a way to take out the day’s aggression. The act of punching a heavy bag can be very therapeutic. The point is not to fuel the fire but to allow the anger and stress to surface and expel, leaving a level of clarity and calmness. That way, you can deal with any issues effectively.

In comparison to some others, the Tabata push-up drill offers a vigorous exercise to destress. Shutterstock

6. Tabata push-up drills allow you to destress in a couple of minutes by exhausting your energy. 

Proposed by Japanese scientist Izumi Tabata, Tabata push-up drills are a form of HIIT training that allows you to push your limits. Tabata is a high-intensity interval training specifically designed to get your heart rate up in a short period. The drills consist of the same exercises through eight rounds of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for four minutes. The benefit of this easy exercise is that it can be used with any form of exercise, whether that is push-ups, jumping jacks, or jumping rope. Doctors recommend that Tabata push-up drills be completed daily and take minimal time out of your day. Performing exercises at a high-intensity help target a greater range of muscle groups than other traditional activities.

Tabata exercises help increase your endurance and, if performed up to four times a week, can improve your anaerobic capacity. As a high-intensity workout, Tabata requires users to stay focused and attentive, enhancing your efficiency. This form of exercise requires your immediate focus for a few minutes, which forces your mind to not think about your stressors for even a few minutes. Your energy will be depleted after performing this intense exercise and will leave you with little energy to continue to stress about things that are beyond your control.

Playing tennis gets you moving, and moving is great for the body and mind. Tennis is a great exercise option. Why? You can play it at any age and any skill level. Shutterstock

5. Whether you are playing competitively for your health or just for fun, tennis has excellent benefits for your mind and body. 

Tennis requires your brain to be creative and involves planning, tactical thinking, agility, and the coordination of different parts of the body. Therefore, the more you play tennis, the better and stronger the neural connections related to those types of activities become. In addition to improving neural connections and developing new neurons, studies have shown that exercises such as tennis that require much thinking can improve brain function in ways that aid memory, learning, and behavior. When you exert yourself, your body releases endorphins. These hormones work to improve your mood, reduce stress, increase optimism, and even ease the symptoms of depression. Aerobic workouts such as tennis are especially good at improving your mood.

Reducing your stress can carry over to other areas of your life, including your work and interactions with friends and family. If you use tennis to relax and reduce stress, it can help you feel more mentally prepared to deal with whatever life throws at you. Tennis is a great exercise and cardio workout that limits many stress-related conditions such as heart disease. Tennis is also a sport that requires you to connect with others. Studies reveal that staying connected to others is a critical component of stress reduction. If you’re new to the sport, you can research and sign up for lessons to learn the basics and proper form. If you are more experienced, you may look for locals in your area who can meet up at the local park to play a match.

High-intensity interval training reduces your stress levels by getting your heart pumping. Shutterstock

4. Studies have shown that high-intensity interval training is a healthy way to reduce stress while also lowering heart disease and diabetes risk. 

High-intensity interval training is a useful exercise in reducing stress as they combine aerobic, anaerobic, and strength elements into one compact workout. Studies have shown that vigorous activities increase the levels of two common neurotransmitters called glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid. These two neurotransmitters are responsible for chemical messaging in the brain. One of the best reasons to try high-intensity interval training as a way to combat stress is because pretty much anything goes as long as you are completing high-intensity intervals. That means that you can incorporate cardio or weights, and all can help achieve the ultimate goal.

The best part about high-intensity interval training is that it does not require much of your time and is a significant stress reduction because your body will release endorphins to boost your energy and mood. You’ll be able to work out at higher intensities for shorter periods, which makes the workout effective and efficient. You can choose any activity that you like. It is strongly recommended that you warm-up for five to 10 minutes and increase your intensity each time for 30 to 60 seconds. Once you’re done, it’s crucial to reduce the intensity and recover for a few minutes. You will want to repeat the intervals for 20 minutes or more. The results of high-intensity interval training will not only be in physical aspects but mental ones as well.

Adding a meditation practice to your day can work wonders on your stress levels, even if you can only spare five or 10 minutes. Shutterstock

3. Meditation is a type of complementary mind-body medicine; people have practiced it for thousands of years. This exercise can wipe away the day’s stress, bringing with it inner peace. 

Anyone can practice meditation. It is inexpensive and straightforward and doesn’t require any special equipment. You can also practice meditation wherever you are, whether you are out for a walk, riding the bus, or even in the middle of a difficult business meeting. If you find that stress has you anxious, tense, and worried, you may be extremely interested in trying this easy exercise. By spending just a few minutes meditating, you can work towards restoring your calm and inner peace. Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. During meditation, you can focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and creating stress.

The process can result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being. Many different meditation benefits can give you a sense of calm, peace, and balance. When you take the time to meditate, you can clear away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to your stress levels. You will gain a new perspective on stressful situations while also building skills used to manage your stress. Meditation helps to increase your self-awareness and requires you to focus on the present. Some of the other emotional benefits are that meditation increases your imagination, patience, and tolerance. There are also physical health benefits to meditation. Doctors suggest that meditation can help people manage symptoms of anxiety, depression, and sleep problems. Meditation is an umbrella term for many ways to a relaxed state of being. There are many different types of meditation and relaxation techniques that have meditation components. They all have the same goal of achieving inner peace.

Dancing is a fun and creative exercise that can also have the added benefits of reducing your stress levels. Shutterstock

2. Dancing has many benefits, including physical, mental, and even emotional. The best part is that there is no list of rules, do’s, and don’ts attached.

There are many perks to dancing. Anyone can participate, and there are no rules to a right or wrong way of dancing. The scientific reason why dance can act as a stress reliever stems from the concept that when the body feels good, the mind does too. Any type of physical activity releases neurotransmitters and endorphins, which serve to alleviate stress. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers to reduce stress and improve the mind’s perception of the world. Therefore after a good workout, the released endorphins cause your body to feel calm and optimistic. Endorphins help enhance the quality of sleep. That way, you can avoid sleepless nights due to stress after a day of dancing.

Your work environment may not always be the best place to express who you are. More often than not, you need to present a professional and buttoned-up version of yourself. Dancing offers a creative outlet for people to express who they are through music and movement. Since there are no rules or guidelines to dance effectively, you can participate in this easy activity and let your body go with the flow. Dancing has many emotional well-being benefits, but it also has many physical health benefits. It can increase your flexibility, strengthen your bones, and build muscle tone. In fact, dancing is a total body workout. Moving your body through dancing can be an easy way to stay fit for people of all ages. Nothing makes you feel less stressed than when you know you are doing great things for your physical and mental health.

Unlike most other exercises that require you to be physically active, mind exercises are among the best stress relievers. Shutterstock

1. Mind exercises focus on your brain rather than your whole body. However, they will ultimately have an impact on your entire body. 

You can use two main mind exercises to reduce stress. The first is guided imagery. Over and over, guided imagery is proven to reduce stress levels. Guided imagery helps you to use your imagination to take you to a calm, peaceful place. Due to how the mind and body are connected, guided imagery can help make you feel that you are experiencing something just by imagining it. You can do guided imagery with audio recordings, an instructor, or a script to help lead you through the process. While performing guided imagery, you utilize all of your senses. For instance, if you want a tropical setting, you can imagine the warm breeze on your skin, the slight of the bright blue water, the sound of the surf, or the taste of coconuts. Imagining yourself in a calm, peaceful setting can help you relax and relieve stress.

The second type of mental exercise is chanting. It is a form of meditation but in an intensified way. Studies have found that chanting can decrease stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Simultaneously, it can increase a positive mood, feelings of relaxation, and focused attention. You can sit with your eyes closed and choose a mantra, either a word or phrase and recite it while breathing in and out. First, chant your word or phrase quietly several times, then chant without making any sound. Try to feel calm, relaxed, and comfortable. For several days you can practice saying your chant quietly to yourself while being in a relaxed state. When you experience acute stressors, chant silently to yourself. You’ll notice how this relaxes and calms you, allowing you to focus. 

Sources:

https://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-living/fitness/9-exercises-stress-relief/

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-_1H-Tev5Qq53xm0amcu4HoNX_orT4fb00WiACjpT3Y/edit?usp=sharing

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