Stress-reducing Exercises that Work
You’ve probably heard that exercise is beneficial to your body. You may even want to start exercising regularly, but you’re feeling too busy or too stressed out to get to the gym. Well, there’s a crucial element of exercise that you may not have considered. Exercise actually reduces stress, resulting in better time management and a more productive you.
For most people, stress is an everyday occurrence caused by internal and external sources. While it’s possible to avoid internal sources of stress with practice, it’s not always possible to avoid the external sources of stress. For this reason, it’s important to find ways to manage stress, and exercise is a great way to do just that.
How exercise reduces stress
Endorphins. One of the best things that exercise does to relieve stress is raise your endorphin levels. Endorphins are the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, and they create a sort of emotional high. Great exercises to pump up your endorphins include running and hiking.
Relaxing chemicals. Exercise not only produces endorphins, it also burns away chemicals that cause stress, such as norepinephrine and cortisol. On top of burning away stress-causing chemicals, exercise also produces relaxing chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals work together to create a feeling of security that can help eliminate stress caused by internal sources.
Meditative effect. Any sustained cardio workout will usually result in a meditative effect. The rhythmic movement involved with cardio exercises works to clear the mind. Because you’re focused on what you’re doing, your mind will feel clear and focused. A feeling of energy and optimism is created, so you feel calmer and happier.
Improved mood and attitude. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, and improve self-esteem. Exercise has also been shown to improve sleep, which can help reduce stress, depression and anxiety.
Aerobic exercise usually works best, due to its rhythmic motion and meditative effect. Some great rhythmic aerobic exercises include hiking, running, swimming laps, dancing, and cycling. If aerobics isn’t your thing, consider trying calming exercises that focus on breathing, such as yoga and tai chi.
Ways to work exercise into your busy schedule
Think of exercise as a break. Instead of looking at exercise as a chore that you have to complete each day, think of it as an excuse to get away. Exercise is a way to get outside, stretch, and breathe fresh air.
Separate yourself. To get the best stress benefits from your workout, choose an activity that separates you from your daily life. This way, exercise will serve as an escape instead of a chore.
Vary your workouts. It’s easy to get bored with exercising if you’re doing the same workout routine every day. So, mix it up to get the most out of your workouts.
Keep it regular. If you keep up a regular exercise routine, you’re less likely to stop exercising. To do this, find a time during the day (at least three days a week) to exercise, and stick with it.