Exercise for stress relief

EXERCISE is one of the best ways to loosen your muscles and fight stress, just ask anyone who has used this method for stress relief.

Workout developer Mesha-Gaye Wright says it's all a part of releasing tension and people who face stressful situations will find that getting up and getting active is one way to help.

"When you're stressed you hold on to tension without realising it," Wright said. "It's important that you take time to breathe and stretch and to meditate as a way of relaxation. This will improve both your physical and mental well-being."

She said it is well known that stress releases hormones that trigger negative responses in the brain and other organs, and can lead to issues like high blood pressure and even, at crisis levels, heart attack.

"Then also, people going through stress, especially from emotionally upsetting events, may choose to partake in high-risk behaviours like drinking, smoking, or taking drugs, which will also affect the body negatively," she added.

She gave these fitness suggestions for managing stress without further compromising your health.

Yoga

Yoga not only improves flexibility and strength, but it also does wonders for your mental state. When you do yoga, the areas of tension and tightness in your body loosens and releases, and combined with deep breathing, will calm you and restore your peace. Combined with proper nutrition and diet, yoga as an exercise technique will bring about the greatest long-term positive benefits and healing.

Run

Running not only improves aerobic fitness, the quick, pulsating rhythm will also keep you mentally in check. "When you run, your blood circulation improves and increases, and this will lift your mood," Wright explained. "In fact, studies have been done that show the benefits of what's called a runner's high — that feeling of calm and peace that you get after a good run. Your body releases endorphins that gives you a feeling of euphoria, even if it's temporary."

Swim

Swimming improves your heart and lung capacity, which in turn improves cardiovascular fitness, keeping your heart rate up, and taking stress off your body. "Water is also naturally therapeutic, and you'll find peace even just by looking at a body of water," Wright said. "Also, just the movement of the water against your body, as well as its soothing, lapping sound, will induce relaxing thoughts."

Dance

Many people have taken up dancing as exercise, and they find that the rhythmic motion to beats works better for them than being in the gym. Dancing is also excellent stress release too, making you lose your inhibitions and releasing feel-good hormones while you move. "So choose a class that offers this technique or boot up your YouTube through your speakers and have some fun," Wright said.

Boxing

That punching bag in the gym isn't just for building your arm muscles, you can also use it as stress relief, especially if your stress is causing you to store up anger. Release your feelings into the punching bag and build some muscles while your're at it. This safe hitting practice will make you feel better afterwards as you would have pounded away some of your stress.

Moreover, Wright said to be mindful not to let stress drive you to unhealthy habits.

"Don't let your stress work against you — and that means that instead of reaching for that tub of ice cream or that bottle of vodka, exercise instead," Wright said. "Good can come from all bad situations, and while we understand that stress can blind you to doing what's best for your health, it's important not to add to an already bad situation."

She added: "The fact is, tension and stress can exacerbate already poor health conditions, leading to a poor health outcome, and what's important is that even when you're feeling at your worst mentally, you still take care of yourself physically."

LICHELLE PALMER

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