How Exercise Helps Stress

Stress has seemed to become an unwelcome part of everyone’s everyday life. There are probably only a few fortunate people in the world who do not or never have to deal with a certain form of stress at least once in a 24-hour cycle. There’s stress at home, stress at work, stress in school, stress in the subway, stress in the supermarket, and stress even when talking to people. But how many people are actually aware of effective strategies to cope with stress? And of these people, how many know that exercise helps with stress management? Yes, there are activities one can do at home, at work, or in school to better cope with stress.

How Exercise Reduces Stress

Several researches linking physical activities with one’s improved well-being have positive results. Clinical studies have shown that exercise relieves stress and is believed to increase one’s chances of recovering from physical diseases and psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety. Exercise is applied as a form of diversion from a stressful situation by focusing more on the body and mind’s capability to adapt and be productive. This means that you are channeling and using your energy to help improve your physical and psychological functioning instead of focusing on problems that stress you out. Engaging in physical activities helps one become more resilient to, otherwise, nerve-wracking circumstances.

Best Exercises to Cope with Stress at Home

There are easy ways to lower stress levels at home, such as engaging in low impact activities. These exercises require minimal help from workout equipment, or none at all.
Yoga. Yoga is a form of exercise that combines poses with breathing techniques. Yoga helps release tension in the body, making one feel lighter and less tight. By focusing on rhythms of the breath and light postures, one is made to feel more calm and relaxed, making more room for inner peace and balance, resulting to eased stress and anxiety. To practice yoga, all you need is a mat and sufficient space to be able to execute your poses. This may be done with or without accompanying music.
Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a martial art that involves gentle movements and focused breathing. While tai chi is primarily practiced as a technique for self-defense, it, undoubtedly, has relaxing benefits that help the mind and body better respond to stressful encounters and bring back one’s sense of equilibrium. This exercise may be done at home or with a group of community friends.
Pilates. Pilates is another popular form of stress-relieving technique that may be practiced alone or in groups. It focuses on enhancing one’s core strength, flexibility, and balance. It is similar to yoga and tai chi since it incorporates focused breathing when doing exercise poses or routines. Pilates also requires coordination between the mind and body to achieve its holistic effects.
Meditation. This is probably the most low-impact of all and this may be done at home, at work, or even in between commutes (although this might not be the best idea). Meditation, believe it or not, is a form of exercise that also helps with stress. You only need a quiet time and place that will allow you to come to a passive state and focus solely on one thing – an object or a mantra – and block distractions, negative thoughts, and forget about the things that trigger stress and anxiety.

Best Exercises to Manage Stress at Work

Walking. One of the best and easiest forms of exercise is walking, or running and jogging, if your schedule allows. When going to work, or school, choose to walk considerable distances instead of commuting. Although this may sound tiring when done early, you might be surprised at how walking stimulates alertness and improves concentration during the day.
Climbing Stairs. When in the office, it is easy to be tempted to take the lift instead of the stairs. However, unless you are going five floors up, it might be a better idea to take the stairs. This does not only strengthen your leg muscles, but you are also giving your body much needed exercise to improve your defenses against stress and anxiety. As with other forms of physical activity, climbing the stairs pushes the body to release hormones that help improve one’s mood and enhance cognitive functions.
Breathing Exercises. Exercise does not only refer to strenuous physical activities, but also includes mental relaxation such as meditation, mindfulness practices, and simple breathing exercises. These can be done anywhere, so long as you are comfortable, and not stressed at the least. When at work, make sure to do this during your break. Sit in a comfortable position and focus on your rhythmic breathing. Inhale, hold your breath for a few seconds, then exhale. Repeat this method several times, again, while focusing on your breathing during the whole exercise. This should make you feel more calm and relaxed.

Incorporate Exercise in Your Daily Routine

Now that you know how exercise helps with stress, you are probably thinking about how to include a workout routine in your daily schedule. First, find out which form of exercise best suits your lifestyle. Think about what exercises are best done at home or at work. Second, set a time and place that will allow you to exercise comfortably or conveniently. Lastly, incorporate a few more touches that will make exercising work better for you. This could be music or a workout buddy. If you practice these steps, you will soon reap the benefits of exercise and live a healthier and more stress-free life.