Mental health, emotional wellbeing & personal development

The Best Exercise for Stress and Anxiety

The Best Exercise for Stress and Anxiety

Exercise is known for its physical benefits. Work out regularly and your body gets in great shape, not just aesthetically but also your overall health, with healthier organs, joints, and bodily functions making life much better. You don’t just look physically great – your body feels amazing too. However, it’s not just physical health that benefits from exercise, as mental health also gains many advantages from regular exercise. For example, exercise is one of the most effective ways to manage stress and anxiety.

How Does Exercise Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety?

When we exercise our brain produces neurotransmitters called endorphins. These act as a natural pain killer while also elevating your mood, meaning anytime you exercise you get a positive feeling that carries on throughout the day – it’s commonly been referred to as the ‘runners high’.

Furthermore, aerobic exercise also reduces amount of stress hormones the body produces, such as cortisol and adrenaline, allowing the mind to naturally reduce its stress levels. Any time you feel the stresses of life getting to you, try some aerobic exercise to help your brain naturally manage stress levels.

Exercise helps to reduce anxiety by alleviating certain issues that are directly caused by anxiety. For example, if you feel tension throughout the body then exercise can help reduce this feeling, while the natural production of endorphins simultaneously lifts your mood to lower feelings of anxiety.

Also, self-confidence grows as you exercise. Many anxiety related issues occur from self-confidence, so by improving your body’s appearance by exercising – such as losing weight and building muscle – you become more confidence in yourself and feel less anxious.

Other ways that we exercise help reduce stress and anxiety include improved sleep, less anger and frustration, higher energy levels, more socialising, and generally enjoying your time exercising.

What is the Best Exercise for Stress and Anxiety?

If you want to manage your stress and anxiety through exercise there are various types of workouts that are effective. The amount you can exercise does depend on your fitness levels, although even moderate exercising works wonders for reducing stress and anxiety.

It is recommended that adults exercise for around 30 minutes at least five days a week. This doesn’t need to be hitting the gym every weekday though, as there are many types of exercises you can do at home our outside. For exercises in the gym we have included a nice piece from gym equipment uk below.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the best exercise for managing stress and anxiety:

Running

Running s possibly the best form of exercise for treating stress and anxiety. Not only that, it burns lots of calories to help lose weight, improves joint strength, builds and tones muscles, while greatly improving your overall fitness.

Better still, you can run almost anywhere! It doesn’t require a gym membership and you only need a pair of trainers to get started. When running, our body produces high levels of feel good neurotransmitters that make us feel positive during and after the run.

Also, the motion of running is quite meditative, further improving our mood and reducing stress and anxiety, while you usually get a better night’s sleep that offers various other mental and physical benefits.

Yoga

Yoga is another fantastic form of exercise for stress and anxiety. While it doesn’t exert the same amount of energy compared to aerobic exercises like running or cycling, it does offer something different.

The slow breathing and deliberate movements of yoga offer exceptional benefits for the mind, producing results similar to meditation, which is one of the best ways to maintain good mental health. You feel calm and at peace, which are feelings that greatly reduce stress and anxiety.

For example, if you are feeling stressed or anxious, the slow breathing and movements of yoga take your mind off it. You’re focusing mostly on the yoga, allowing other feelings to disappear and not return for some time.

Pilates

Pilates is a good form of exercise for stress and anxiety much like yoga is. It has similar movements that are slow and require deliberate breathing, both of which combine to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

However, you may find Pilates more effective, as it does require more exertion than the slower paced yoga, focusing more on your muscles than your flexibility.

Because of this, it improves strength and toning more than yoga does, so could leave you looking and feeling better in a shorter time.

Swimming

Another type of aerobic exercise, swimming is great for treating stress and anxiety because it requires a lot effort. Your heart rate significantly increases, burning calories and getting the blood flowing, resulting in a very effective workout that leaves you feeling in great shape physically and mentally.

Swimming is especially good because it works the entire body. You’re not only burning calories but good for people that may lack the mobility to run or cycle, as the weightlessness of being under water reduces pressure on weak joints.

Dancing

Taking a few dance classes each week works wonders for your mental health. It requires a fair amount of effort so ensures a good workout, while dancing is usually one of the more entertaining types of exercise.

Additionally, dancing usually involves two people, allowing you to have an enjoyable experience with someone else. This social aspect further reduces stress and anxiety, as socialising tends to provide a positive boost to your mood.

Boxing and Kickboxing

Sometimes the best ways to alleviate stress is to let some of your anger and frustration out, which is why exercises like boxing and kickboxing are a good option. Classes are available at most health clubs, while it’s easy enough to install your own punchbag at home if you find yourself enjoying it.

Hitting the bag certainly feels good, but you also get a good cardio workout at the same time, ensuring you get many of the stress reducing benefits of other aerobic exercises. You should notice your confidence increasing over time as your body becomes more toned.

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash