HealthMental Health

Is exercising great for managing stress or the wrong move? 

 When it comes to managing stress, exercise is great for it. Exercise is one of the best therapies we can give our bodies. Though they require some form of energy exertion, which a stressed person may not be capable of, it is still a great medicine for stress. You have to know how to do it to favor you.

A woman exercising in her home as a way she is managing stress

Key takeaway

Exercises are great for managing stress. Although many people are not familiar with this information, should I know familiar with how to do it correctly for stress management? In this article, you will learn the benefits of exercises for stress, what exercises to do, recommended exercises for each type of stress, and other tips to live a better life. In most cases, a person dealing with stress is likely told to rest, relax, or avoid strenuous activities, which could include exercise. So, when exercise is mentioned in the equation, it is deemed bad advice, which is not the case. Exercising is beneficial for mental health, including stress. 

5 effective ways exercise is great for managing stress 

1. Release of endorphins

When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. These endorphins can help reduce stress,  and boost your overall mood. Therefore, making you feel better and brighter. 

2. Reduction of cortisol levels

Physical activity can help lower the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in your body. This can lead to a decrease in stress and anxiety. Going for a hike, playing with your kids at the park, taking your dog for a walk, going out with your friends and taking pictures, running, jogging, and so on are super duper great for managing stress and reducing stress hormones. 

3. Improvement in sleep

Regular exercise can improve the quality of your sleep. It can help you feel the “good exhaustion” that makes you want to get a good night’s sleep. And, getting enough restful sleep is great for managing stress effectively. Therefore, you should get some workouts in. 

4. Distraction and focus

Engaging in physical activity can act as a distraction from daily worries and stressors. It’s like a way to tap into your “Hakuna Matata” energy and make the day feel much better.  It can also help you focus on the present moment, which promotes mindfulness, reduces stress, and assists your body in managing your stress levels.

How to practice mindfulness 

5. Improved overall well-being

 Exercise can contribute to an overall sense of well-being by improving your physical health, boosting self-esteem, and providing a sense of accomplishment. This positive outlook can aid in managing stress, and help you cope better. 

You know the “Yeah I did that!” or Wooo did I just sweat this much?” Feeling? Yup, that’s what exercises do for you. Even though you may have struggled to finish a rep, you will feel proud of yourself.

When you include exercises into your routine, you get to experience stress-relieving benefits and improve your overall mental, and physical health.

Types of exercise that are best for managing stress and bringing relief.

When it comes to stress relief, certain types of exercise can be particularly beneficial. Here are some of my favorite  exercises that are great for managing stress:

1. Yoga

Yoga combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation, and this makes it an excellent choice for reducing stress and promoting relaxation. Mind you, anyone can do yoga regardless of weight, height, and so on. So, therefore, start doing some yoga at home or wherever you’re comfortable with.

2. Pilates

 Pilates focuses on core strength, flexibility, and overall body awareness. It can help improve posture, reduce tension, and enhance relaxation. All this makes it great for managing your stress levels. 

3. Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a gentle form of martial arts that involves slow, flowing movements. It can help reduce stress, improve balance, and promote a sense of calmness. 

4. Dance

 Dancing is a fun and expressive way to relieve stress. Whether it’s through structured dance classes or simply dancing to your favorite music at home, or participating in a dance challenge on social media, it can uplift your mood and reduce tension. It’s also a great way to keep things fun and exciting. 

5. Nature walks or hiking

Being in nature and engaging in physical activity outdoors can be incredibly calming, and rejuvenating. Walking or hiking in natural surroundings can help reduce stress, and improve your overall well-being. To make things more interesting, you can do it with a family or friend, or make it a group thing. However, if you prefer to be by yourself please go ahead, it’s completely fine, and still very effective. 

These types of exercises not only benefit your physical health but also support your mental well-being by reducing stress levels.

What exercises are best for certain types of stress?

Stress has several factors, and it can be more helpful, and strategic to use exercises for certain types of stress. Here are some exercises that can be particularly effective for managing different types of stress:

1. For physical tension

Activities like yoga, stretching exercises, and tai chi are much better options, as they can help release physical tension in your body. These exercises focus on relaxation, flexibility, and gentle movements, which can alleviate muscle tightness, and promote physical relaxation. 

2. Mental stress

Aerobic exercises such as running, cycling, or dancing are great for reducing mental stress. If you’re sad or feeling down, just turn on the TV, or grab your headphones, play some music, and dance. You will be surprised at how much better you feel afterward. The rhythmic movements and focus required during these activities can help clear your mind, improve your mood, and lower feelings of anxiety.

3. Emotional stress

Mindfulness practices like meditation and deep breathing exercises can be beneficial for managing emotional stress. These techniques help you stay present, calm your emotions, and cultivate a sense of inner peace.

4. For Stress-related fatigue

Low-intensity activities such as walking, gentle yoga, or swimming can help combat stress-related fatigue. These exercises can boost energy levels, improve circulation, and enhance overall your well-being.

5.  For social stress

Engaging in team sports, group fitness classes, or exercising with a workout buddy can help manage social stress. Social interaction and support from others can reduce feelings of isolation and boost your mood.

To get the best results from managing stress, tailor your exercise routine to address specific types of stress. So you can effectively manage, and reduce its impact on your overall well-being.

Avoid making these mistakes when you’re exercising to manage stress.

As much as we’ve gone over the importance and benefits of exercise in managing stress, it is still important to apply some caution so you get the best out of what you’re doing.

Don’t over-exercise 

Exercise is great for managing stress, however, you must overdo it. If you’re feeling extremely stressed or experiencing things like migraines, intense fatigue, nausea, and so on, it is best to not exercise too much or too hard. Go easy, and rest if necessary, so you don’t burn out. I’d recommend seeing a healthcare professional if you’re experiencing certain symptoms or continue to feel stressed. Sometimes medication may help manage stress, and feel much better. 

Skipping warm-up and cool-down 

Don’t skip warm-ups and cool-down exercises. It is a common mistake that many people make when exercising to manage stress. Especially when they’re going a little intense. Warm-up prepares your body for exercise, while cool-down helps your body recover. Both are crucial for preventing injuries and help promote relaxation. Therefore don’t forget to take some time to do them.

Not listening to your body

Ignoring your body’s signals during exercise is a big no-no. Pay attention to how you feel, and adjust your workout intensity or type accordingly. Pushing through pain or discomfort can lead to injuries and increased stress. You don’t want to end up hurting yourself while trying to heal yourself. 

Being inconsistent

Consistency is key when using exercise to manage stress. It’s not only important to be consistent when exercising for weight loss, but also for managing your stress. Skipping workouts or being inconsistent can disrupt your routine and hinder the stress-relieving benefits of exercise. Try to establish a regular exercise schedule that works for you. In other words, it is good to be consistent in practicing good habits, so you can reap the benefits. 

Focusing solely on intense workouts

The harder your workout doesn’t equal lower stress levels, it might even aggravate it. While high-intensity workouts have their benefits, focusing solely on intense exercise can sometimes add to your stress levels. The best thing to do is to mix different types of exercise, including relaxation-focused activities like yoga, to provide a more balanced approach to stress management.

By avoiding these common exercise mistakes, you can ensure that your workouts are effective in helping you manage stress,  and improve your overall well-being. Always remember that balance will always take the cake when it comes to your health. 

Aside from exercises for managing stress, what about your food?

When it comes to managing stress, your diet can play a significant role in supporting your mental well-being. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help regulate your mood, and reduce stress. Also, certain foods like fatty fish, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and whole grains contain nutrients that support brain health, and can positively impact stress levels. 

Additionally, staying hydrated and reducing your intake of caffeine, sugar, and processed foods can also contribute to better stress management. Overall, eating nutritious foods can go a long way in managing stress levels. 

Some food ideas to try  when you’re managing stress

 When it comes to stress relief, adding certain foods to your diet can make a difference. Here are some specific foods that can help alleviate stress:

1. Fatty fish

Fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to reducing anxiety and promoting brain health. And they’re very delicious and spontaneous, so you can make several dishes with them. 

2. Nuts and seeds

Almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are great sources of healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants that can help lower your stress levels. Plus, they’re great snack sources for you. 

3. Leafy greens

Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are high in magnesium, a mineral that may help regulate cortisol levels and promote relaxation. So therefore start eating your greens. 

4. Whole grains

Foods like oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice can help stabilize your blood sugar levels and provide a steady source of energy, which can aid in stress management.

5. Berries

Blueberries, strawberries, and other berries are rich in antioxidants that can combat the effects of stress on the body and support overall well-being.

6. Dark chocolate

When you eat them in moderation, dark chocolate can help reduce stress hormones in the body and promote a sense of calm due to its antioxidant properties. Once again, eat them in fair amounts so you can get the best out of them. 

7. Green tea

It contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which has calming effects on the brain and can help reduce stress and anxiety. It’s also said to help lower belly fat and reduce cholesterol in the body, all of which are beneficial in managing stress. 

Adding these foods into your diet along with regular exercise can create a healthy approach to managing stress. However, you should remember that this list is not a finalized one, it’s just some food ideas to keep in mind, they don’t have to comprise your whole diet. 

Need an already-made meal plan? No problem, we got you. 

Read 21 days meal plan. It consists of a daily diet plan, including snack ideas according to your breakfast lunch, and dinner. What’s more, it’s a diet plan great for managing stress levels as well. Overall, you’re going to love it. 

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