Work pressure, family tensions, or high aspirations, we all get laid back by the challenges of life. And the harmful effect of chronic stress takes a toll on our health, making life’s challenges appear more challenging. Thus, we tend to end up finding ourselves trapped in a vicious circle. But exercise is a powerful stress reliever. It doubles up the gain. It helps relieve stress and also confers a healthy body, which in turn acts as a stress-buster. Read through to know how exercising helps reduce stress levels and go through the list of some of the best stress relieving exercises that can be a part of your routine.
How Exercise Helps Reduce Stress?
We’ve often heard that exercise is great therapy. It is one of the best ways to reduce stress. But how can a physically draining and exhausting workout leave you emotionally and psychologically charged? Read on to know about the science behind how exercise helps reduce stress:
1. Increasing Levels of Endorphins
Exercise reduces stress by elevating the levels of endorphins, the body’s stress-fighting hormones. An exhausting workout proves to be more stimulating in the release of the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters.
2. Cutting Down the Negative Effect of Stress
After an exhausting workout when the body organs seem to be stressed out, they begin to work together in tandem to get through the weariness. This leads to positive effects on your body. The cardiovascular, digestive, and immune systems are thus protected from the negative effects of stress.
3. Mimicking Effects of Meditation
When we are deeply involved in exercising, we tend to forget about our challenges in life. Thus, exercising will reduce stress by mimicking the role of meditation. As the body tends to forget about the day’s negatives, it gets into the healing mode. This results in higher energy and optimism which helps break through the vicious circle.
4. Elevating the Mood
Regular exercising bestows positivity. This helps improve sleep and makes you feel more relaxed and in command of your life. This lowers the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Thus, exercise reduces stress by boosting self-confidence.
Best Stress Relieving Exercises
Listed below are some of the best exercises to reduce stress. You can pick any depending upon your personal choice and comfort.
1. Brisk Walking
The simplest way to tame tension is to go for a brisk walk. Studies reveal that with just 10-minutes into brisk walking, the body begins to feel the stress-busting effects of exercising. A 45-minute to 1-hour session every day is considered ideal to negate the harmful effects of stress.
2. Jogging or Running
Like brisk walking, a jog or a run can prove to be equally healing for the mind and soul. But consider jogging or running only if your feet and knee joints are up for it. Also, wear proper running shoes that adequately cushion and support your feet.
Cycling can be the perfect exercise to reduce stress. Easy on the joints but a heart-pumping workout, cycling helps the brain release the ‘feel-good’ hormones which lift our mood instantly. Also, a change of scenery and cool fresh air can help clear off negative thoughts, thereby cutting stress levels.
Swimming is a full-body workout and a great exercise to reduce stress. The rhythmic breathing and analogous swimming strokes stimulate the part of the brain responsible for releasing endorphins, hormones crucial for rest and relaxation. Swimming is also a great way to burn calories and a perfect workout for cardiovascular health.
How about dancing to your tune to shoo away stress? There can be nothing more stress-relieving than simply grooving around on your favourite music. Dancing as a stress-relieving exercise works in two different ways. Firstly, when we listen to the music of our choice, we tend to feel relieved and less stressed. Secondly, dancing is a physical exercise which triggers the release of endorphins, making you feel less anxious and stressed.
6. Boxing or Kickboxing
Boxing or kickboxing acts as an effective exercise to exhibit your negative feelings. Being mad at something or someone triggers stress and we invariably feel like hitting something hard to express it. Punching onto a boxing bag or kickboxing can be an excellent way to release the frustration and emotions of anger and fury. The high-intensity workout triggers the release of endorphins. Simultaneously, it cuts down on the production of adrenaline and cortisol, the body’s stress hormones.
Aerobics is a perfect mood elevator apart from being a full-body workout. The physical exercises and movements of aerobics ensure stretching and strength training along with conferring mental benefits. The mental attributes have a two-way impact. Firstly, it increases the levels of endorphins that make the body and mind feel good. Secondly, it reduces the levels of adrenaline and cortisol that put the body in a state of stress.
Yoga is revered as an antidote for stress and anxiety. The slow, systematic movements of the different yoga poses partnered with rhythmic breathing encourage physical and mental relaxation, making it a proven exercise to reduce stress. Furthermore, the vast array of yoga poses caters to different health conditions. One can choose the yoga asana to address a particular health concern. Good health makes the body feel less stressed.
Tai-Chi is a combination of meditation and focused breathing. The ancient Chinese martial art is also called ‘meditation in motion’. This is amongst the most effective stress relieving exercises. It includes more than 100 gentle movements to be carried out fluently without pause. Thus, the exercise reduces stress by working on the concentration aspect.
10. A Team Game
In addition to the above-mentioned exercises that can be taken up solo, there can be team games that confer similar results. Cricket, tennis, volleyball, basketball, etc., just to name a few, can become a perfect exercise to release stress. Team games also boost coordination, an essential life skill which helps keep stress at bay.
The amount of time that one must devote to these stress relieving exercises per day will vary from person to person. Exercises to reduce stress work best when customised to meet personal needs and requirements. But regularity and consistency are the key.