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What Types of Stress Reduction Exercise Are Most Effective?

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Updated October 13, 2012

What Types of Stress Reduction Exercise Are Most Effective?

Exercise and stress reduction go hand-in-hand. (Photo from iStockPhoto.com)

Question: What Types of Stress Reduction Exercise Are Most Effective?
"I've heard that exercise can be effective for stress reduction. Why is this true, and which types of exercise are best for stress reduction?"
Answer: It's true that exercise is an excellent stress reduction tool, and this is true for several reasons:
  1. Exercise helps release built-up tension in the body.
  2. Exercise can give you a venue for releasing emotional tension as well.
  3. Exercise releases endorphins and other "happy hormones" in your body, promoting a feeling of wellbeing.
  4. Exercise helps promote overall health and wellbeing, which can also lessen your experience of stress.
  5. Some forms of exercise allow you to be social, which can also be great for stress reduction. Other forms of exercise can allow you to get into a meditative state. Exercise can also raise feelings of self-esteem and bring other benefits that improve life quality.
(Read more about the benefits of exercise and stress.)

With all these benefits, it's clear that if you're able to exercise, you should exercise! The next step is finding the right form of exercise. The following are excellent for stress relief, for the reasons mentioned above, and each has their own special offerings as well.

  • Yoga: It's great for physical health and flexibility, and it can also help you get into a meditative state. (Read more about the benefits of yoga.)
  • Karate: It can help you develop self-discipline, become part of a community, release frustration and tension, and even feel safer, as you'll be better able to defend yourself in the event of an attack.
  • Swimming: Combining the soothing properties of water and the benefits of exercise, swimming is a great way to get in shape, cool off, and feel great.
  • Walking: Just about anyone can do this one, and it can conform to your schedule: You can take a walk on your lunch break, put little kids in a stroller and walk, walk in the morning before your shower, etc. Walking and talking with a friend makes it not even feel like exercise (for me, at least), and walking by yourself can provide the venue for you to work out problems in your head or get into a meditative state.

If you're not sure how to work regular exercise into your schedule, you may be interested in this article about exercise for busy people. Also, if you have trouble maintaining new habits that are good for you, read this article on how to choose a healthy habit and stick with it.

What's your favorite way to relieve stress? Visit the forum and discuss it with the group! Plus, learn about other stress relievers that work.

Sources:

Fox KR. The influence of physical activity on mental well-being. Public Health Nutrition September 1999.

Ritvanen T, Louhevaara V, Helin P, Halonen T, Hänninen O. Effect of Aerobic Fitness on the Physiological Stress Responses at Work. Intermational Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health. 2007.

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