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Using Exercise for Stress Relief

Stress is more than just an emotional state. Who hasn’t experienced physical symptoms, such as muscular tension or headaches, when under stress?

The good news is that physical activity can help ease stress, whether you currently exercise on a regular basis or not.

That activity doesn’t have to be intense, either.

“Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever,” according to the Mayo Clinic. “Even if you're out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management.”

How Exercise Helps Ease Stress

Exercise is an effective stress buster because your mind and your body are deeply interconnected.

“The physical symptoms of stress are themselves distressing,” says Harvard Health. “In fact, the body's response to stress can feel so bad that it produces additional mental stress.” By giving that tension a physical outlet, exercise can help break the mind-body stress cycle.The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described. The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.

Exercise increases your levels of endorphins, your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters (the ones responsible for the euphoric feeling known as “runner’s high”), while reducing levels of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Being active also boosts your brain by improving blood flow as well as your body’s ability to use oxygen.

Exercise can help lead you into a meditative state. “After a fast-paced game of racquetball, a long walk or run, or several laps in the pool, you may often find that you've forgotten the day's irritations and concentrated only on your body's movements,” says the Mayo Clinic.

Finally, exercise can help ease sleeplessness, a known contributor to both physical and emotional discomfort, while improving your overall health and well-being…which gives you one less thing to be stressed about.The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described. The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.

Stress-Reducing Forms of Exercise

Fortunately, there is a wide range of activities that can help you beat stress while getting fit and having fun. In addition to intentional exercise, try to work more movement into your day-to-day life, such as parking at the far end of the lot or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Every little bit counts!

Aerobic Activity

Anything that gets your heart really pumping qualifies as aerobic—running, jumping rope and group activities such as spinning or CrossFit all fall into this category. These activities require a higher level of fitness to begin with. However, walking is a good beginner’s option as long as you walk at a moderate pace (versus a slow stroll).

Distance Work

Activities such as running or biking over long distances qualify; so does cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Exercise in a natural setting and you get a double dose of stress relief, since being in nature itself is beneficial.The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described. The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.

Martial Arts

Karate and judo are the ones that come most readily to mind; in addition to letting you release tension, they also promote the kind of self-discipline that can carry over into other aspects of your life. There’s a whole world of martial-arts options to explore, including (but certainly not limited to) tae kwon do, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts (MMA). As with aerobics, it helps to have a fairly high fitness level before you begin.

Organized Sports

Whether you prefer soccer or basketball, softball or tennis, golf or flag football, playing an organized sport lets you enjoy the stress-busting benefits of both exercise and sociability. What’s more, the need to stay competitive provides a little extra motivation to stay active.

Tai Chi & Yoga

Do you prefer a quieter, more meditative approach? Then you may enjoy either of these activities, both of which involve defined body movements or positions tied to specific breathing techniques. Tai chi is slow-paced by its nature; yoga can be if you stick with classes labeled as “gentle” or “restorative.”

Tips for Starting an Exercise Routine

The Centers for Disease Control recommends getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-level exercise, enough to get your heart rate up a little, plus strength-building activity, such as lifting weights, two days a week.

If you’re just starting your exercise routine, your first step should be talking to your healthcare practitioner (especially if you’re older). After that:

  • Find an activity you enjoy. It’s hard to stick with exercise for any reason, including stress relief, if you don’t like what you’re doing. And don’t be afraid to mix it up, either—if your routine is becoming stale, find something else.
  • Create a plan. You are more likely to maintain your momentum if you have a clear-cut plan, such as, for example, leg work on Tuesdays and upper-body work on Thursdays in addition to at least five days a week of jogging or biking.
  • Build up gradually. Introduce your body to activities slowly: Tackle shorter 10-minute workouts or try out some low-intensity exercises. And even if you have to move a little slower, make sure that you're using proper technique to create deliberate movements. This helps prevent injury while making exercise more effective.
  • Warm up and cool down. Warming up prepares your body for activity and reduces injury risk, while cooling down helps to minimize soreness and promote recovery.
  • Be active in short bursts. Can’t fit in 30 minutes of exercise today? Try for two 10-minute walks plus a set of squats at midmorning and some stretches on your afternoon break. As you become more fit, consider HIIT, or high-intensity interval training.
  • Buddy up. Walking with a friend lets you exercise while enjoying someone else’s company. What’s more, having an exercise buddy allows you to hold each other accountable on days when one of you is just not feeling it.

The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described. The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described.

The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.

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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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