Trends & Features

A fitness expert reveals the best exercises for reducing stress

Exercise plays a crucial part on your mental health, as it’s an excellent way to let off steam throughout the week, release those feel-good endorphins into the brain, and allows you to carve out time to reconnect with your mind.

Over time, fitness offers long term mental health benefits too, such as increased self-confidence, improved sleep, and general healing from the inside out – allowing you to feel strong both physically and mentally. Exercise reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn stimulates our mood-boosting endorphins helping us to relax, and can even lower mild symptoms of depression and anxiety.

So, if you’re looking for the ideal exercises and movements to reduce your stress levels and benefit your mind, Dean Zwech, Product Development Manager at Total Fitness, has shared his expert advice.

Swimming
Swimming is a low-impact exercise which is suitable for people of all ages and physical abilities – this is because water buoyancy reduces the impact on the body, allowing you to relax and workout without feeling overexerted. Water is also known for its tranquil qualities, which is why we are drawn to its calming nature. The colour blue has been proven to naturally promote relaxation, which is why swimming makes for a wonderful exercise for anyone looking to combat stress.
At Total Fitness, we have both swimming and hydrotherapy pools – hydropools in particular help to aid recovery as they raise your temperature and improve blood flow, speeding up the healing process as a result.

Yoga
A serene exercise which is bound to bring a sense of zen to your week is yoga. The calming effect that yoga offers is through its focus on conscious breathing, or as yogis (a practitioner of yoga) call it, pranayama. Breath work is integral to not just exercise, but to our everyday lifestyle, and being able to harness it allows for a calmer state of mind. Breathing techniques used in yoga are common exercises used for relieving stress or anxiety too, as being able to focus on your body allows you to detach from external stresses and helps connect the mind to more positive thoughts.

Walking
Walking is an ideal way to free your mind, as not only is it available to people of all ages, but it also gets you out of your surroundings and into nature. Taking time to enjoy a new environment and breathe in the fresh air will help to clear your head, as walking provides a space where you can separate from the world while being on the move.

Level up your walks by taking the time to incorporate mini exercises, such as shoulder rolls, into your regime. These movements will help to alleviate tense muscles and improve your posture – making it a refreshing way to unwind on the go.

Squash
Squash is a game of strategy and requires great focus, making it the ideal outlet for letting go of any worries because you’re focus is on the game and your opponent. It’s also a sport which can be played in pairs, making it a fantastic excuse to catch up with a friend or family member. This energetic sport is a fun way to build up your mental accuracy as not only does it require quick reflexes and physical agility, but also rapid responses and strategic thinking.

As you build up your skill, you’ll also improve your balance, coordination, speed, and flexibility. This enhanced physical state will help to boost your confidence and positively impact your mental health.

Tai Chi
Commonly known as a form of martial arts, tai chi has evolved into a relaxing form of meditative exercise. Akin to yoga, tai chi promotes calmness through the use of gentle, flowing movements accompanied by deep breathing. The combination of slow, mindful breaths and movements help to improve sleep and is also beneficial to the nervous system as it creates mood-boosting hormones.

So, if you need a pick me up or a workout to reduce stress, try out one of these exercises to boost your mood and get your blood pumping. Make sure to find an exercise you really enjoy as this will help you to make time and schedule it into your busy life.

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