Silencing Stress with Exercise

There are two things in life you simply cannot avoid: death and taxes. Well I am here to argue that we can add one more inevitability of life to that list: STRESS! According to an Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s survey on stress and anxiety disorders, seven out of ten adults in the United States say they experience stress or anxiety daily, and most say it interferes at least moderately with their lives.

Personally, wearing multiple hats means I tend to overextend myself often. The first thing that I let fall by the wayside is self-care and stress LOVES filling that void.

I know that so many can relate to that same feeling of being bogged down by stress. As moms, wives, managers, daughters, sisters, and countless other things, stress can subtly slip its way into our lives. But do not fear because stress can be handled in two ways: Stress can either cripple you or you can cope with it.

Coping with stress is a unique experience for all of us. Eating, sleeping, relaxation, spending time with loved ones and other techniques are often a “go to” for stress relief. Those practices are easy and natural; more often than not, you are going to do those things anyway, regardless of your stress level.

So I want to challenge everyone!

I know it’s going to sound cliché but instead of sweating about stress, try sweating through stress! Here are suggestions for the workouts your body needs to help you combat stress.

Yoga //  Mindfulness and meditation are core elements when practicing yoga, making it my favorite stress-reducing workout. You can attend a Yoga class or, for more convenience, pull out your mat at home. To get started, Health Perch created this infographic to explore ten Yoga poses that specifically help with stress relief.

Tai Chi // I bet you’re envisioning folks from a retirement home in a park at sunrise as they block imagination punches—don’t mock it until you try it! Tai Chi incorporates breathing and self-paced, fluid movements. It helps you center yourself and is very calming so it’s a fantastic way to reduce stress.

Walking and Running // The benefits of walking or running are a given as you get a nice cardio workout while pounding the pavement. It can often provide clarity as your feet rhythmically hit the concrete. Another perk is you can go outside to get some sunlight (Vitamin D) and fresh air in the process.

Aerobic Workouts // High energy workouts (spinning, Zumba®, high intensity interval training (HIIT) etc.) that get your heart rate up help your body release endorphins so you get a natural high. After 60 minutes of a HIIT class and a hot shower, I feel like I can take on the world!

If you want to go the non-traditional route, you can also consider swimming, dancing, bike riding or playing a team sport with friends. The most important thing to remember when exercising for stress reduction is that some level of both caloric burn and kinetic activity are key.

If you exercise frequently and fall victim to occasional bouts of stress like me, try incorporating a new workout. Something that you’ve never done before. But if you already exercise regularly and still feel consumed by stress or anxiety, I’d suggest consulting with a physician to determine if medical intervention is needed.

As always, exercising is an investment in YOU! In this case, it not only benefits you physically, but you will also see how beneficial it is for your mental health and well-being.

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