Managing stress with exercise

Stress Reduction

Life is stressful. We all have challenges, whether they are personal, professional, financial, medical, or other types, that cause us anxiety or concern. All of these concerns add up to tension in the mind and body, which leads to stress. The good news is that even though we may not be able to control some of the events that cause anxiety or tension, the stress resulting from these events is manageable. One of the best ways to manage stress is through exercise.

You don’t have to exercise like an Olympic athlete or MMA fighter to get great, stress relieving results (although I find pounding on a punching bag is therapeutic in itself…).

Here are some easy steps to get you started

1. Start slowly. Any physical activity will have some stress relieving benefits. The key is to just get moving. You can walk, jog, play basketball (or some other sport), or do just about any activity that gets your pulse going to get started. A good rule of thumb is to do something that causes you to sweat, even if only a little. Starting slow and building slow is likely to be more effective than starting out fast. By starting slow, you minimize the chance of injury, and also avoid burnout. To get the best benefits make sure that whatever activity you choose lasts for at least 15 minutes in the beginning, and build as you get more fit.

2. Keep it fun… keep it simple. People rarely do anything they don’t enjoy, or absolutely have to do to survive, for very long. Its important that as you start out with any exercise routine that you choose activities that are fun, and simple. If you have to do a lot of preparation to get moving, or if the activity is just really unpleasant for you, odds are you won’t do it for long. Remember, the point is to reduce your stress, not add to it. Keeping it fun and simple is key to your success.

3. Just do it! Here’s the thing. Most of us are stressed largely because we are busy. Think about it: how much of your stress is because you simply have too many responsibilities, or too much to do? So, it is likely that finding the time to exercise is going to be a challenge. At the end of the day, you have to just do it. Set aside a specific time each day that you will devote to exercise – remember it only has to be 15 minutes to start – and make that time sacrosanct. You have the time. Just commit to it and do it.

Some possible activities

For some people, figuring out what to do is the first major hurdle. Remember, keep it simple and build. Here are some examples of what you can do to get moving:

• Walking
• Biking
• House cleaning
• Yard work
• Basketball pick up games
• Join a team – kickball, softball, volleyball
• Hiking
• Martial arts classes
• Yoga or Tai Chi

The possibilities are endless.

Exercise is a great way to manage stress, and you don’t have to train like a professional athlete to get the benefits. By just taking out 15 minutes each day you can have a real impact on reducing stress in your life. The results are more energy, a healthier body, and a positive outlook. Remember that at the end of the day, either you will manage your stress, or your stress will manage you.

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  • Billy July 7, 2010, 6:54 am

    Chris, I totally agree. I find exercise a blessing in many states. Feeling down, feeling energetic, feeling happy no matter what, i find some exercise no matter how you are feeling gives u that extra lightening feeling. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Chris July 7, 2010, 6:20 pm

      Thanks Billy,

      I find that when I am stressed or in need of some deep introspection or contemplation, even just taking a walk helps. Im also fond of a few rounds on the punching bag, and jogging. Its tough to make the time, but worth it.