March 24, 2023

When life gets stressful, exercise and stress relief go hand-in-hand. Use exercise to reduce stress and the health problems that come with it.

It’s increasingly clear that stress is bad for our health. It contributes to many problems, from poor sleep to increased risk of heart disease.

Exercise doesn’t only improve your physical health but it brightens your mental health as well. While getting moving may be the last thought on your mind, regular aerobic exercise is key to clearing your head. Especially in times when you need to cope with your situation, self-care in the form of exercise goes a long way.

Rather than trying the impossible task of getting rid of all sources of stress from our lives, try using exercise to reduce stress. You don’t even need a long, intense workout to reap some de-stressing benefits. Sneaking in even a little bit of activity at home can make you feel better.

4 tips for using exercise to reduce stress

  1. You don’t need fancy equipment at home. Just a pair of running/walking shoes and a resistance band or light weights should do the trick. This is portable, lightweight gear that will allow you a wide range of exercise options, indoors or outside. That way, you can’t make excuses!
  2. Hold yourself accountable. Using an app like Nike Training Club or Strava will allow you to keep track of your progress and encourage you to “check-in” with yourself.
  3. Have some quick workouts handy. Try the deck of cards workout: Each suit represents an exercise and each face value represents the number of repetitions. (Face cards are 10 reps, aces are 11 reps.) How long will it take you to finish the deck?
  4. Try yoga, which you can do at home with DVDs or by streaming online yoga classes on your computer or tablet. The internet is full of yoga sites and videos! Yoga increases the body’s flexibility (stretching out all those tense muscles) and the breathing it emphasizes calms your heart and mind.

Google and YouTube are great sources of ideas for yoga, exercises using a resistance band, or, for the deck of cards workout, without any equipment at all. For ideas on short, effective workouts, search these sites for the amount of time you have — “20-minute workout,” “10-minute workout” — and you’ll find many suggestions.