Let’s be real — 2020 has been one stressful year. We could all use a little tension relief, and daily exercise is a great way to get it! Engaging in physical activity releases feel-good endorphins and reduces adrenaline and cortisol (AKA your body’s stress hormones). According to the Mayo Clinic, it can even boost your confidence, improve sleep quality and provide distraction from daily frustrations. The list of benefits truly goes on and on, and they all add up to a healthier, happier you!
While all exercise is good, some activities go the extra mile when it comes to reducing stress. Give one of these five workouts a go the next time you need to unwind.
Aerobic exercises like walking, running, biking and swimming are a great place to start. They require either minimal or no equipment and are excellent for both your physical and mental health. Aerobic exercises excel at getting your heart rate up and at helping your body release those nifty endorphins. If you have a stress-related condition like cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure, aerobic exercise can also reduce its impact. And, as an added tip, dancing also counts as an aerobic exercise! Grab a partner or cut loose all by yourself whenever you want to release a little tension.
Yoga is a mind-body practice that pairs deep breathing and meditation with physical poses. These movements and breathing techniques not only increase strength and flexibility, but also promote mental discipline — the perfect combination for relaxation! And thanks to its popularity, it’s easy to find yoga sessions for all experience levels both online or through group fitness classes.
Like yoga, tai chi links physical movements to your breath. However, movements are fluid and derived from martial arts. These fluid movements help you fix your attention on the present rather than the stresses of the day, while also promoting flexibility, better balance, increased cardiovascular fitness and restful sleep.
Pilates focuses on controlled movements designed to increase strength, flexibility and body awareness. Concentration is key to getting the most out of these movements and, conveniently, this allows you to let go of worries while also releasing muscle tension. The increase of oxygen flow in your body thanks to mindful breathing can also help you feel calmer.
Who wouldn’t want to de-stress by throwing some punches? Kickboxing is a high-intensity, high-impact workout that requires constant movement. That means this full-body workout really gets your heart pumping and those calories burning, helping you to shed those anxious feelings and boost your energy levels. You’ll also see improvement in your balance, flexibility, coordination and confidence — and walk away with some practical self-defense moves!
Above all else, just remember that doing any form of exercise that you enjoy is likely to help you feel more relaxed. Is there a certain team sport you enjoy playing with friends? Maybe tackling the obstacles at one of our Rugged Maniac events is just the ticket. Even gardening counts (fun fact — according to WebMD, pulling weeds can burn 200-400 calories per hour)! As long as you don’t get too competitive in your activity of choice, doing whatever gets you moving and makes you happy can help you in your quest for calm.