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How Exercise Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Exercise is a proven way to improve your life by reducing stress and anxiety.

Couple working out, relieving anxiety lg 

Unfortunately, feelings of stress and anxiety are a reality—one reality that can negatively affect your quality of life. At any given time, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing stress, and it can be tough figuring out positive ways to manage it.

 

Why does exercise reduce stress and anxiety?

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to deal with and handle stress and anxiety. The stress of exercise actually helps your brain release endorphins, which serve as natural painkillers. Consistent exercise, whether it’s every day or three times a week, encourages your brain to regularly release endorphins which can help improve your mood.

Working out helps your body lower stress hormones like cortisol. To sum it up, the release of endorphins combined with the reduction of stress hormones helps you feel calm and in control of your life, thanks to exercise. Below are different forms of exercise that will help you curb your stress and anxiety.

Yoga

This well-known form of exercise also serves as a form of meditation. Yoga practitioners experience a variety of physical benefits such as improved circulation, better flexibility, and a stronger core. Regular yoga sessions can also help reduce the chances of high blood pressure and heart disease. Yoga practitioners also receive training on how to achieve peace of mind that leads to less stress and anxiety.

Related: Why It's Good for You to Exercise Outdoors

Cardio workouts

Running, cycling, and swimming are all different forms of cardio exercise that are great for the heart and lungs. Cardio exercise can also be a form of meditation because it can be done over longer periods of time versus quick, powerful exercises such as deadlifts. These type of workouts can be most effective for stress management in the mornings so your day starts off with a release of endorphins.

Related: 5 Reasons to Have an Exercise Buddy

Martial arts From karate to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, various forms of martial arts are effective ways to reduce anxiety and stress through exercise. One of the main reasons? Because you train with other people. Many martial art exercises and techniques require a training partner—this socializing is a great way to release endorphins, create a connection, and feel less stressed. Martial arts provide a community to learn from on a consistent basis.

Ultimately, it’s your choice as to which form of exercise is most effective for you to reduce stress and anxiety in your life. Try out different classes—from tai chi to yoga—if you’re not sure what works for you. You can even alternate between different workouts—go for a run every other day and strength train in between. Remember: Consistency is key to managing your stress and anxiety in a healthy, sustainable manner.

What type of exercise helps you reduce stress? Tell us on Facebook—we’d love to hear from you. For information on our medical and dental plans, visit selecthealth.org/plans.

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Joshua Jamias

Joshua Jamias is online marketer and freelance writer. He is a sports enthusiast and enjoys creating health and fitness content.