There are many benefits of a good exercise routine beyond burning calories. The fact is, exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress and anxiety. There is no single exercise that is the best for relieving stress because it depends on the individual. Some people decompress by doing cardiovascular workouts, like kickboxing or hot yoga, that get their heart rate going. Others do better with meditative exercise, such as hatha yoga or qigong, that lets them escape their worries. Some people prefer cross-training or other types of combination workouts because the diversity of activities keeps them from getting bored. Follow these guidelines to get on the path to a less stressful life.
Choose good shoes for exercising. Don’t worry if you can’t afford the latest $100 pair of cross-trainers. Your main goal is to make sure your feet are supported well and that you feel comfortable. Look for gel pockets, such as those in many New Balance styles, if you plan to do high impact exercise. Walkers, runners and joggers will want a flexible, flat shoe, such as the athletic styles (not fashion styles) designed by Adidas. Dancers will want shoes with soles appropriate for dance floors, such as those made by Capezio. Of course, you can also opt for a barefoot exercise routine, such as yoga, low impact dance or pilates.
Dress comfortably. If you plan to hike, walk or run, you will want clothing in natural fibers that lets your skin breathe. You may also want one of the high tech fabrics that helps wick away sweat. Look for close fitting clothing that will not get caught on exercise equipment or roll down during an inverted yoga position. Basic black is perfect for shorts, leggings or yoga pants.
Stay hydrated. No exercise can relieve stress if your throat is parched and your skin is dry. Plan an exercise route that goes by water fountains or has a midpoint at a corner store, or carry your water. If you are exercising at a club, plan a couple of quick water breaks during the routines.
Avoid multitasking. Yes, it’s great that you can talk on your cell phone while power-walking or text on your Blackberry while hitting the treadmill, but the point of releasing stress is to let yourself have a moment without excess stimulus. If you must have the news on to make the exercycle bearable, set aside a few minutes for quiet stretching and meditation before or after the workout.
Breathe deeply. Begin and end your exercise with deep, cleansing breaths. Breathing like this is healing and relaxing. It can clear the mind and boost energy. As you exhale, imagine all your worries blowing away.
- Exercising with a group can help people stay committed to a routine, but it can also slow down the pace. Determine which setting is right for you.