Stress relief exercises are useful for both long term stress prevention and immediate tension relief.
The key is moderation.
A sedentary life does not support long term optimum health. But exercise which is too much, too frequent, or too vigorous for your body and current fitness level, can simply produce more stress.
A friend of mine once asked her yoga teacher which yoga postures would make her feel peaceful and healthy. Her teacher replied “the key is not so much which postures you do but how you do them, how much effort do you use…..not too much……not too little.”
I use my breath as a guide. If my breathing is rough and heavy through the mouth I am using too much effort. Breathing gently and softly through the nose, even while exercising gives much more stress relief.
Stress relief exercises are like shaking out the cobwebs. We can feel relaxed, enlivened and refreshed afterward. You don’t need to strain after the Olympic gold medal if that’s not your style. Find your own pace.
But I’ll tell you from personal experience, thinking about exercise never gave me the benefits of actually doing the exercise. So don’t procrastinate, just get moving.
Try these tips to help you maintain an exercise routine...
Some ideas to try include:
For stress relief exercises to work effectively, it is a good idea to vary both the activities you do and the pace with which you move. Sometimes faster, sometimes slower, there is no single right way to exercise.
Varying your stress relief exercise routine has several benefits:
Vary your exercise with the seasons and the weather.
Try bicycling, hiking, swimming in the warm weather or ice skating and skiing in the winter.
Exercising outdoors in a natural setting and fresh air is wonderful. Try yoga, tai chi, palates or calisthenics when your exercise needs to be indoors.
Experts say a well rounded balanced exercise program usually includes:
Relieving stress by exercise is especially effective when it is done systematically over time. Almost every day is best. Exercise is one of the essential foundations of good health and happiness.
However, avoid an all or nothing, or perfectionist mentality. Even a little stress relief exercise, like a 30 minute walk can make a huge difference.
Involve other people in your stress relief exercise activities. This adds a dimension of social enjoyment as well as reinforced commitment. You might:
Many people find exercising at the same time each day, usually in the morning, helps them to stay “on track”.
But most of all, find a few activities which you really enjoy. It will make exercising much more likely to happen.
Many people find that setting exercise goals helps motivate them to exercise regularly. Your goal might be to climb a local mountain trail, or to participate in a local race or on a sports team.
For best results relieving stress by exercise, try to make your goal realistic to your age and body type. For example, if your body build is small and frail, playing professional football might not be your most appropriate goal. If your body is built more like a tank, deciding to become a ballerina might not be wise.
It is best to set realistic goals for the body you actually have rather than the body you wish you had, or used to have.
While relieving stress by exercise is very effective, if done improperly or too aggressively it can also increase stress and injury so...
I suggest being less concerned about how you look, or how you “measure up” compared to someone else, and more concerned with how your body feels. I often have to start a new program of stress relief exercises much more slowly and gently then is usually recommended to an “average” beginner. But “exercising” that patience helps me to avoid injury and to feel better.
Whether you are a rank beginner or a professional athlete, if you are looking for more specific guidelines on tailoring a stress relief exercise program to your body type and fitness level, I suggest “Body, Mind and Sport the Mind-Body Guide to Lifelong Fitness and Your Personal Best” by John Douillard.
For me, walking has always been a great source of stress relief. Walking is especially soothing and grounding if I can do it outside in a beautiful setting. And yoga is really gentle and relaxing too.
But lately, I have also been enjoying my Total Gym workout. Doing systematic resistance exercise in my own home is convenient and helps me work off some of my excess muscle tension. The equipment folds up for easy storage and the resistance levels can be adjusted for each person and exercise. I find it works my muscles while being gentle on my joints. Best of all, it is helping me to maintain a healthy level of muscle mass as my body ages.
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Excercise Activities to Release Stress and Anger
Go for a walk, yourself or with someone. Take long nice bike ride sometimes works!!
Amy's Stress Relief Exercise Story
I have an anger problem but I manage to control my anger by talking and walking. Thanks for sharing your story Amy. Anger can certainly be stressful. …
Explore other Stress Prevention Healthy Lifestyle Choices which can help build your strength, energy and resilience, or...
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Looking for more resources?
Yoga is a traditional type of stress relief exercises which works on many levels, from physical to mental. Click here to learn more about Yoga and stress relief.
exercise. (2008). Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica 2007 Deluxe Edition. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica.
newsinhealth.nih.gov, January 2007. “Stressed Out?” http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/pdf/NIHNiH%20January07.pdf
Douillard, John. 1994. Body, Mind and Sport The Mind-Body Guide to Lifelong Fitness and Your Personal Best . New York: Crown Trade Paperbacks
Van Voorhees, Benjamin W., MD, MPH, 7/27/2007. “Stress vs. anxiety”http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002140.htm