There is a thin line between stress and anxiety, but their symptoms are similar. Stress arises from an external trigger which can be short-term, like work frustrations, or long-term, such as a chronic illness. Anxiety is a result of continuing excessive worries that don’t stop even when you’re not stressed.
If not well managed, stress may become chronic and affect the entire body, including the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, and endocrine systems. Exercises not only enhance body fitness, but also help relieve stress and anxiety. Here are the best exercises for relieving stress and anxiety.
Yoga uses the slow and deep belly breaths technique to lower the level of your body’s anxiety and stress hormone cortisol while encouraging mindfulness. It also helps supply more oxygen to the brain, causing it to work better. The mindfulness technique enables you to focus on your immediate feelings, and when practiced at intervals throughout the day, it can help relieve stress.
Yoga poses are like strength training, making you more flexible and resilient, and relieving physical tension. Deep breaths help your mind and body relax. You can register for gentle yoga classes that mainly reduce stress, like Hatha or practice at home. For best results, consider combining exercising with anxiety supplements. Check out these supplements and workout guides to learn more.
2. Tai Chi
Tai chi is a graceful self-paced exercise whose movements are slow and focused and are accompanied by slow breathing. Each movement flows into the next without rest, ensuring constant body motion. Due to its gentle flowing postures, tai chi promotes serenity, reducing stress and anxiety.
3. Pilate workouts
Pilates involves low-impact flexibility, muscular strength, and endurance movements that focus on posture alignment, core strength, and muscle balance. They help you stretch tight muscles, increase circulation, and challenge your muscles, leaving your body and mind strong and refreshed. The strength needed to exercise these muscles requires focus which leaves no room for stress. You can perform pilates in studios or at the gym on a reformer machine or use a mat and DVDs at home.
When you hit a punching bag, you trigger the brain to produce more endorphins that result in feel-good thoughts. The muscle tension accumulated when you’re stressed is also released during the exercise. As you keep on punching, your focus and concentration improve, helping you forget your stressful situation. Additionally, anger, which is a sign of stress, can be released by hitting a punching bag, leaving you relieved of all negative emotions and effectively helping you overcome them.
Besides boosting your joint mobility, cycling positively impacts your mental health. Cycling is not only a cardiovascular exercise generally known to reduce stress, but it also reduces the production of the cortisol hormone responsible for stress and lack of sleep and increases serotonin which improves sleep. In addition, cycling boosts concentration and improves your mood, relieving you of stress and anxiety.
Swimming releases feel-good hormones and chemicals into the brain, such as endorphin and serotonin, which help reduce stress and anxiety. It also works your whole body and particularly the cardiovascular system, which suffers from stress. The deep breaths and long muscle movements needed for swimming trigger the brain to promote neural growth, leaving you relaxed and positive.
Tennis is a form of aerobic exercise that requires a high level of body and mental concentration. It requires fast cognitive responses and strategic planning that keeps the mind engaged throughout the game. When you regularly play tennis, you learn to stay alert as you anticipate your opponent’s next move, find the best response, and deliver in a matter of seconds. This boosts flexing and building brain muscles, improving memory, concentration, and reducing stress and anxiety. It also helps release muscle tension that accumulates in the body due to stress.
Like other aerobic exercises, running triggers the brain to release chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that help improve your mood. A regular running routine helps increase happy feelings and produces endocannabinoid chemicals into your bloodstream, then moves to the brain to temporarily reduce stress and anxiety. Running also improves blood circulation in the brain, relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression. Since stress and anxiety deprive you of sleep, the chemicals your body releases during and after running helps relax your body, encouraging deep sleep.
9. Resistance training
Also known as strength training, resistance training consists of using external force such as weights to strengthen your muscles. The combination of physiological and psychological effects that happen during strength training leads to reduced stress and anxiety. Like other exercises, resistance training releases feel-good hormones to improve your mood and relieve you of stress. These exercises also release muscle tension accumulated by stressful situations.
Stressful situations arise every now and then. It’s how you deal with them that matters. Physical activities reduce stress and anxiety. Engaging in regular exercises will not only keep you fit but free you from stress and anxiety.