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Get Moving to Reduce Stress

A silhouette of a person walking toward a field where birds fly overhead in front of a bright sunrise with blue skies in the distance

Exercise in most forms can act as a stress reliever. It can boost your feel-good endorphins and help distract you from daily worries. Exercise does your body good but often you feel too busy and stressed to fit it into your daily routine. Although virtually any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever. If you’re not an athlete and out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management. Discover the connection between exercise and stress relief and why exercise should be part of your stress management plan.

Exercise and Stress Relief

Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being. This can help put more pep in your step every day. Exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits.

  • It pumps up your endorphins. 
    Physical activity helps improve the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins.
  • It’s meditation in motion. 
    After exercising you often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movement. Exercising regularly helps shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity. You may find that it is easier to remain calm and clear in everything you do.
  • It improves your mood. 
    Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. It can also improve your sleep. This can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of control over your body and life.

Put Exercise and Stress Relief to Work for You

Success begins with a few simple steps.

  • Consult with your doctor. 
    It’s important to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine especially if you haven’t been active for some time and have health concerns.
  • Walk before you run. 
    Gradually build up your fitness. Often excitement about a new routine or program may lead to overdoing it. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends healthy adults to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate activity or 75 minutes of aerobic activity. Start at the moderate level and then add vigorous activity as your fitness improves.
  • Do what you love. 
    The most important things are to pick an activity that you enjoy. Examples include walking, stair climbing, jogging, bicycling, yoga, tai chi, gardening, weightlifting, and swimming.
  • Pencil it in. 
    Carving out some time to move every day helps make your exercise program an ongoing priority.

Stick with it

Starting to exercise is just the first step. Here are some tips to sticking with a new routine or revamping a tired workout:

  • Set smart goals.
  • Find a friend
  • Change up your routine
  • Exercise in increments

Whatever you do don’t think of exercise as just one more thing on your to-do list. Find an activity you enjoy whether it is an active tennis match or a meditative meander down to a local park and back. Make it part of your regular routine. Any form of physical activity can help you unwind, reduce feelings of depression and anxiety and become an important part of your approach to stress reduction.

Reference: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.