How to deal with stress? Millions around the world are asking this question. Here are some statistics from The American Institute of Stress. A look at them and you realize why so many people are desperately looking for an answer:
- 55% of Americans experience stress during the day.
- The global average of stressed people spread across 143 countries stands at 35%.
- 48% of people in the US have trouble sleeping because of stress.
So, how can we deal with stress? Well, 30% of American adults propose exercises to reduce stress. Why? Because they report reduced stress due to regular aerobic exercise apart from other health benefits that come with it. But how can something as tiring as exercise help us with stress management? Let’s find out.
How Does Exercise Help Relieve Stress?
When we’re stressed, people usually advise us to relax and rest, right? So, why should you go for a run when an exciting movie on Netflix can work as stress relief. Actually, No, just resting and relaxing doesn’t help in managing stress. Increased physical activity, on the other hand, will definitely do that. Let’s look at how exercise helps in stress relief.
The Blast of Endorphins
How do you feel after an intense workout session or a football game? Obviously, you feel tired. But there’s a sense of euphoria, right? A lot of positivity starts flowing through your body. That’s because there’s a connection between exercise and relaxation. And as you keep exercising, these feelings become cumulative over time. Well, these post-exercise feelings of joy are a result of two factors:
- Physical exercise improves blood circulation and your body’s ability to use oxygen. Both these factors have a positive effect on your mental well-being.
- Secondly, it increases the production of endorphins in your brain. Endorphins relieve stress and are responsible for the euphoria-like post-exercise feelings, also termed the runner’s high. We can probably say that endorphins act as natural painkillers.
Physical activity increases self-confidence
When you exercise regularly, it has a positive effect on your self-confidence. As you strengthen and tone your body, your waistline begins to shrink. Naturally, you start developing a better self-image.
In addition to that, taking up exercise also works as a better alternative to a sedentary lifestyle. According to WHO, 60% to 85% of people don’t indulge in enough physical activity. Such a lifestyle is linked to depression and chronic stress. Regular aerobic exercise saves you from the risk of going down this path.
It’s Basically Meditation in Motion
When you play a sport or exercise, it takes your mind away from your worries. You concentrate on the game or your body’s movements. In other words, you practice mindfulness, much like you do while meditating. By focusing on one task at a time, you develop a greater sense of calm and clarity. The increased focus spills over to your everyday life. Gradually, you learn to fight stress with patience and perspective.
And, by the way, supplementing your fitness routines with a few minutes of meditation can also do wonders for your overall health. You will see drastic changes in how you combat stress once you join a meditation class led by Breathefy experts.
Exercise Helps you Sleep Better
Stress and sleep are closely related. As we read above, nearly 1 out of 2 Americans have trouble sleeping because of stress. Exercise has proven to help people sleep better at night. As little as 30 minutes of exercise every day can enhance the quality and quantity of sleep you get.
Let’s just say that patience isn’t a virtue of the sleepless. When you’re tired and sleep-deprived, you get agitated easily. But good sleep, backed by regular exercise, will help you tackle the day’s stress with calmness.
We now know that exercise helps relieve stress by stimulating the release of endorphins, among other factors. Now, let’s talk about some of the best exercises for stress management.
Jogging or Running
When you go for a jog, the blood flow to the brain increases. To be precise, blood circulation to the part of your brain that responds to stress is increased. Better blood circulation means more oxygen and more brainpower. As a result, your reaction to stressful situations becomes more resilient.
Moreover, running regularly also reduces the risk of heart disease. By the way, you must not start running right away if you haven’t before. It is rightfully advised that you should start with brisk walking.
Cortisol is one of the stress hormones that cause difficulties with sleep. Cycling has been found to reduce levels of cortisol in your body. Naturally, cycling will help you sleep well, reducing stress in the process.
Also, cycling stimulates the release of Serotonin in your body, which is also known as the “happy hormone.” This also triggers a cycling high, which is the same as a runner’s high. Apart from these, cycling also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Swimming is a combination of deep breathing and long muscle movements. It gets you in good physical shape while also providing stress-busting benefits. This means that swimming has a two-fold effect on your overall well-being.
In fact, 74% of responders to a survey agreed that swimming helps them release stress and tension. Not to mention, swimming is a lot of fun! So, swimming has to be a contender when it comes to the best exercises to reduce stress.
HIIT Workouts to Ease Stress
HIIT workouts are usually preferred for increasing resilience. But such exercise reduces stress by improving your body’s ability to use oxygen. In fact, studies show that as exercise intensity goes up, stress levels tend to come down.
Yes! We know that High-Intensity Interval Training is not for everyone. But even moderate-intensity exercise can also significantly bring down your stress levels. However, if you’re able to put in that extra effort for HIIT workouts, you will see how drastically it improves your mental health. Apart from that, HIIT workouts also help reduce blood pressure. So, all the sweat pays off in the end, doesn’t it?
Physical Yoga postures like the Easy Pose (Sukhasana) and the Child’s Pose (Balasana) relieve tension and alleviate pain. Yoga poses also help release physical blockages like muscle knots, which release emotions and tension.
By taking up Yoga, like 300 Million other Yoga practitioners worldwide, you can tap into the healing power of the ancient practice. You can join Breathefy’s Live Yoga sessions conducted by certified instructors and reap the wide spectrum of Yoga benefits to fight stress. If you don’t have the time to step out for a class.
We know that endorphins reduce stress and make us happy. And dancing has got to be the most fun stress reduction method. Dancing, like running, stimulates the release of endorphins in our bodies. Add to that the fact that dancing also helps deal with high blood pressure, and you’ll see how those quirky dance steps boost your overall well-being.
Say Goodbye to Stress with Aerobic Exercise
Even if you’re suffering from chronic stress, regular physical activity can help. Scientific research suggests we should get approx. 150 minutes of exercise every week. You don’t have to necessarily do one of the exercises we’ve mentioned on our list. You can simply play your favorite sport. What matters is that you take time out for physical activity.
Stress and depression are massive problems facing us today. Today’s fast-paced world makes some people feel either dazed or left behind. Reasons for stress might vary for each of us, but exercise can help us relieve stress and feel better about ourselves. So, it’s time to get your fitness goals ready and create that long-overdue exercise program.
Breathe Your Way to a Better Self
“Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go and see what happens.” Yes, sometimes you just need to be in the moment and breathe, as this Mandy Hale quote sums up. And we at Breathefy firmly believe that we can all make our way out of stress and towards peace with breathwork, yoga, and meditation.
With highly-informational content on overall wellness and live sessions led by our certified instructors, we can help you get started on your journey to improved mental health. If you back your regular exercise with some breath training, you’ll see better results. We wish you all the luck on your wellness journey.