There’s abundant research available discussing the link between exercise and stress relief. We all know that exercise is great for our bodies but often forget just how impactful physical activity can be in giving us mental fortitude, relaxation and relief from stress. When we exercise, endorphins are released in the brain. Endorphins are hormones that block negative feelings and generally relieve any feelings of stress or anxiety.
One of the worst side effects associated with higher levels of stress is high blood pressure. Maintaining a higher than normal blood pressure can put you at risk for a whole host of health issues concerning your heart, brain and other vital organs. To keep you on track both physically and mentally, here are the best ways to exercise to reduce stress and lower blood pressure.
You might be surprised to know just how far-reaching the health benefits of walking every day can be. From helping you maintain a healthy weight to lowering blood pressure and building stronger bones and muscles, just taking a walk has a lot more going for it than meets the eye.
If you are new to exercise, walking is a fantastic place to start. Busy schedule? Try taking two or three shorter walking breaks throughout your day. The important thing to remember regarding stress relief and walking is allowing your walk to be a break from what stresses you. Don’t bring your phone with you if it’s likely to ring you back to your desk.
Want to maximize the stress-relieving results you can get from walking? Take your walks outdoors and into nature. Research has shown that spending time outside regularly plays a huge role in relieving stress and lowering blood pressure. Find parks or trails with lots of trees, water and animal life to feel like you’ve truly gotten away from the daily grind.
For the best results both physically and mentally, shoot for around 30 minutes of walking at a moderate pace each day. Don’t forget that your four-legged friend might want to join you.
High-energy output activities like dancing, aerobics, spin cycle and kickboxing are proven stress relievers. The elevated heart rate and often fun, energetic movement involved in these types of exercises are perfect for releasing endorphins, lowering blood pressure and kicking stress in the butt.
Exercising at a higher intensity level is fantastic for the heart and lungs. One of the very best things you can do when it comes to lowering blood pressure, energetic exercises are the perfect way to re-energize you and keep you feeling fit and healthy. Try finding classes at local fitness centers or, if you’re more of the at-home exercising type, find online videos of instructors to help get you moving.
The fun factor is one of the key ways this form of exercise works as a stress reliever. Many people find themselves particularly attached to specialty classes like hip-hop spin class or Latin-style dance exercise. Find something that suits you and makes you feel good, and you’ll surely be on your way to a healthier and more stress-free lifestyle.
Yoga may seem like the go-to stress-relieving exercise for its meditative qualities alone. However, there’s plenty of science to back up why yoga is good for us aside from the “om” factor.
For one, yoga is great for loosening up tight joints and muscles that often get stiff and painful when we are stressed. Chances are you have a particular area in your back, buttocks, shoulders or neck where you “carry your stress.” You know, that spot that always seems knotted and hurts the worst at the end of the day. Just 15 to 20 minutes of yoga each day can help not only alleviate the immediate pain and stiffness but help maintain a more loose and relaxed state to avoid restiffening. This means that even when life gets stressful again, your body will be better prepared to handle it.
Additionally, yoga is an ideal choice if lack of focus is what plagues you and stresses you. The challenging positions and transitions rely heavily on a higher level of focus than most exercises. Spending some of your time each day focusing solely on your yoga practice can center your mind and relieve stress in a big way.
You may consider joining a yoga gym, but keep in mind there are lots of great options for yoga instruction both online and through video resources.
Who doesn’t love at least one kind of sport? Team sports or individual sports are an excellent choice for lowered blood pressure and relief from stress. The obvious fitness factor comes into play here. Physical activity in the form of sports is great for your body and, therefore, great for your mind as well.
Tennis, golf, cycling and swimming are all great examples of individual sports that can either be done solo or with friends and family. You may also consider getting involved in adult sports leagues to fuel your competitive edge and hopefully have lots of fun in the meantime. Soccer, softball and basketball are all popular team sports that have adult leagues nearly anywhere you might live.
Choosing to participate in sport is sure to keep you more active and healthy and maybe even feeling like a kid again. After all, it is human nature to play. As children, a play is the surest way to learn, interact and have fun. Sometimes as adults we forget to allow ourselves the time to play even though research shows how important play for adults can be mentally and emotionally. Connect with your friends, community and family by choosing to play a sport for your mental and physical well-being.
Do What You Love
The most important factor in any of these exercise choices is that you truly enjoy the time you spend doing them. Exercise should never be considered something you have to pencil into your schedule or feel stressed about performing.
Choose one of the above exercises because it makes you feel good. You should be excited to get started, feel good as you’re doing it and feel relaxed and stress-free when you’re done.
Remember, there’s plenty of hours in the day to be stressed about a million and one other things. Allow yourself the time — even just 30 minutes each day — to exercise in the way you choose for your body and your mind. The impact on your stress level and physical well-being will be tangible.