The 7 Best Workouts for Stress Relief

05/16/2017 03:47 pm ET
Created by Javi_indy - Freepik.com

Everyone gets stressed out. It’s a normal part of life – but that doesn’t mean you should just deal with it! There are many techniques, activities, and therapies that can help relieve stress, but exercise just might be the most beneficial way to naturally reduce stress.

Why? Physical activity reduces cortisol levels (your body’s stress hormone). Getting active and breaking a sweat causes your body to produce endorphins, which help your body and mind relax. You can expect better sleep, a clear mind, and an improved mood thanks to a stress-relieving workout session.

While any exercise will naturally reduce stress, we want to share with you seven exercise activities that specifically act to connect mind and body – promoting an instant feeling of calmness and wellbeing. These physical activities provide a good workout for your body while also being relaxing and therapeutic.

Try out one of these stress-relieving exercises the next time you need an instant pick-me-up:

Yoga

This popular mind-body practice brings together physical and mental disciplines to help you relax while increasing physical strength and flexibility. It combines poses with controlled breathing and mindfulness. According to Mayo Clinic, yoga can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and lower heart rate.

Anyone of any age or fitness level can practice and benefit from yoga. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be flexible or strong to hit the mat. Another perk of yoga? There are many different styles, forms, and intensities, so you’ll never get bored of this powerful mind-body workout. Try out this 15-minute stress relief yoga sequence for beginners.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese non-competitive martial art. It’s popular due to its health benefits and known to be one of the most effective exercises for both mind and body. Like yoga, there are many different styles and forms of Tai Chi. This exercise links flowing physical movements with breathing. According to Tai Chi for Health Institute, studies have shown that Tai Chi improves muscular strength, flexibility, immunity, and can help relieve pain – all while achieving a sense of peace and serenity. Check out this quick introductory to Tai Chi for stress reduction.

Pilates

This fitness system is designed to strengthen muscles, improve posture and flexibility, and heighten mental awareness. Pilates is known to help relieve both stress and anxiety symptoms. It releases tension in the muscles while using breathing techniques to provide more oxygen to the brain – causing a feeling of calmness and wellbeing. Try this quick, stress-relieving Pilates routine before you go to work.

Gardening

Get your hands dirty! Gardening isn’t just a hobby – it’s a workout. In fact, according to MindBodyGreen.com, gardening for about 30-45 minutes a day can burn anywhere from 150 to 300 calories. A 2011 Netherlands study shows that gardening leads to a positive mood and promotes relief from acute stress. It was also said to combat stress better than other relaxing leisure activities.

Since gardening doesn’t seem like a “workout”, you might forget to warm-up before you start. Be sure to do these light stretches before you dig in: Exercises for Gardeners

Kickboxing

This workout burns calories like crazy and helps maintain a high metabolism. Kickboxing is a blend of martial arts and boxing, and can be practiced for general fitness, self-defense, or sport. It reduces stress by teaching proper breathing techniques, building confidence, and giving you an instant energy boost. Smack down your stress with this kickboxing cardio workout.

Dancing

Dancing is as fun as it is stress-relieving. Dancing provides an outlet for self-expression and creativity. It helps build confidence, and the ability to express yourself in a safe environment is great for a healthy mindset. Not to mention, dancing has amazing fitness benefits as well. Getting groovy can assist in weight loss, build muscle, improve heart health, and strengthen bones. Dance your stress away with this samba-inspired Zumba workout.

Outdoor Activity

Being active outdoors just might be the cure to all things stressful. Plenty of research has shown the health benefits of spending more time outdoors. Admiring nature calms your brain and melts stress away. Taking a bike ride, going for a run, or even taking a walk in a park will improve your mood and clear your mind. Check out this quick video to learn even more benefits of exercising outdoors.

Remember that any type of physical activity that increases your heart rate is sure to reduce stress! Try out some of these exercises when you are craving an instant rush of tranquility and calmness.

What’s your favorite stress-relieving exercise?

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.
CONVERSATIONS