As a health enthusiast, exercise is a huge part of my life and some types of exercises that lower stress have actually saved me in more ways than one. Suffering from depression, anxiety, and even an eating disorder left me a nervous wreck a good bit of the time. Yet, I found that I didn’t just need to exercise to relieve stress in a healthy way, but I needed to also focus on more types of exercise that lower stress. The results were almost immediate, and I’ve never looked back. I gave up high intense sources of exercises years ago and my stress has never been lower. My weight has also remained stable and my bones are nice and strong. Check out my favorite types of low key exercises that lower stress. Be sure to also share any you might have with me!
Walking, at all speeds, is one of the best types of exercises that lower stress of all. Walking is great for your heart, your weight, and is easier on your joints than running. Plus, it's so easy and you can do it anywhere. Don’t let anyone tell you walking isn’t a great way to get fit; that’s rubbish! Walking is just as effective for maintaining or losing weight as running, and is better than running for lowering stress. Why? Although running produces endorphins that make you happy through intense activity, it also raises cortisol levels, your stress hormone. Walking actually lowers cortisol, and keeps your blood pressure and blood sugar stable at all times. I recommend walking 30-45 minutes each day either outside or on a treadmill at a moderate to fast pace. Taking an afternoon stroll is also wonderful for you!
Yoga is such an amazing form of exercise. I’m sure by now you know just how great it is for lowering stress since it has become such a popular form of activity, but nonetheless, it’s worth mentioning here. My favorite part about yoga is how it increases oxygen flow to the brain through the specific movements and flow used in this form of exercise. Increased oxygen to the brain and heart creates lower stress levels, increased serotonin production, mental clarity and reduced appetite. It can help to reduce headaches as well. Try a beginner practice if you like, or a more advanced one. You can find a ton of free classes online at YouTube, which I am a big fan of.
Pilates is my favorite floor exercise outside of yoga. Pilates strengthens the core muscles, engages the entire body and helps strengthen the spine. It is also a wonderful source of exercise to improve lymph flow in the body. This lowers stress, releases toxins and gives you a great set of abs, a great butt and a strong back in no time. Pick a beginner series online through YouTube, or buy one of the DVDs by Crunch Gym, which I recommend.
Did you know stretching is actually a very effective form of exercise? It’s also great for lowering stress, improving muscle pain and flexibility and it can relax the digestive tract when you’re stressed. It also lowers the heartbeat and can help prevent muscle pain. I like to stretch for about 20 minutes twice a day. Let your body guide you to what needs to be stretched and do whatever you can. It is my favorite way to increase my flexibility. I also find it greatly enhances my posture and exercise performance in other activities.
Dancing is one form of exercise I don’t do enough of! It is fabulous for relieving stress since it is hard to really dance and mean it, and be stressed at the same time. Dancing is meant to lighten you up, and give your heart a little workout, plus your muscles! Whether you dance at a fast or moderate past, this form of exercises that lowers your stress levels is also great for your weight and your joints. Turn on your radio and just go at it for 30 minutes!
Have you ever practiced Tai-Chi? It is an ancient form of Chinese meditation that uses the body as a way to enhance “tai-chi.” This increases your happiness, reduces stress, improves flexibility and prevents aging. Dr. Oz is a huge fan, as well as Oprah.
Swimming is another wonderful source of exercise that lowers stress, both physically and mentally. Since the body is suspended in water, swimming is much easier on your joints, yet tones your body incredibly well. It also increases your breathing, and can lower the heart rate as a result, lowering your stress levels. Swimming is also a great way to interact with a form of nature from the contact with water. Your body senses this as a relief from stress and will in turn lower the stress hormones in your body. If you don’t have the ability to find a local pool, be sure to try it in the future if you can!
I walk and do yoga every day and can’t imagine my life without both of them. What’s your favorite way to lower stress through exercise?