Reducing Stress with Exercise

You know that exercise does your body good, but you’re too busy and stressed to fit it into your routine. Hold on a second! There’s good news when it comes to exercise. Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to weightlifting, can act as a stress reliever. You can 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 life.
Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits. It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. It is important to get a good night’s rest so you can be more productive and alert throughout your days.
Here are some tips for sticking with a new routine or reinvigorating a tired workout:
Walk before you run. Build up your fitness level gradually. Excitement about a new program can lead to overdoing it and possibly even injury. Plus, if you begin your program slowly, chances are better you’ll stick with it. If you’re new to exercise, aim for about 20 to 30 minutes of exercise two to three days a week and increase gradually. It is also important to incorporate strength training exercises at least twice a week for an overall balanced fitness regime.

Do what you love, and love what you do. Don’t train for a marathon if you dislike running. Virtually any form of exercise or movement can increase your fitness level while decreasing your stress. The most important thing is to pick an activity that you enjoy. Examples include walking, stair climbing, jogging, bicycling, yoga, tai chi, gardening, weightlifting and swimming.

Pencil it in. Although your schedule may allow a morning workout one day and an evening activity the next, carving out some time to move every day helps you make your exercise program an ongoing priority.

Starting an exercise program is just the first step.
Set some goals. It’s always a good idea to begin or modify a workout program with a goal in mind. If your primary goal is to reduce stress in your life and recharge your batteries, your specific goals might include committing to walking during your lunch hour two to three times a week or, if needed, finding a baby sitter to watch your children so that you can slip away to attend a fitness class. The point is make time for you!
Find a friend. Knowing that someone is waiting for you to show up at the gym or the park can be a powerful incentive. Working out with a friend, co-worker or family member often brings a new level of motivation and commitment to your workouts.

Change up your routine. If you’ve always been a competitive runner, take a look at other less competitive options that may help with stress reduction, such as Pilates or yoga classes. As an added bonus, these kinder, gentler workouts may enhance your running while also decreasing your stress.

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’s an active tennis match or a meditative meander down to a local park and back, and make it part of your regular routine. Any form of physical activity can help you unwind and become an important part of your approach to easing stress in your daily life.

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