Walking & Other Exercises
Regular exercise is one of the best stress-reduction techniques available. It improves health, and reduces stress caused by lack of physical fitness. It also relaxes tense muscles and improves sleep. Other positive benefits of exercise include:
- Improving blood flow to the brain, which brings additional oxygen and other nutrients; and
- Causing the release of chemicals called endorphins into the blood stream. The endorphins give a feeling of happiness and have an overall positive sense of well-being.
- Get more done – you have more energy and you’re more productive
- Boost brain power and be more creative
Movement is the Key
- High-Energy Activities – the benefits of aerobic exercise — like running, dancing, spinning, and in-line roller-skating — include an increased heart rate. When your heart rate is accelerated, your body releases endorphins, natural opiates that make you feel good with no side effects. High-energy activities help you feel better physically and mentally. Just be sure to check with your doctor before starting any high-intensity workouts.
- Pilates a series of controlled movements and mat exercises named after their creator, Joseph Pilates, is designed to build your strength, flexibility, and endurance — all of which make practicing Pilates, an anaerobic (as opposed to aerobic) exercise, a great stress reliever. Pilates also tones the body, which in turn helps you look good and feel better. One can take classes at a Pilates studio or at a gym, or use DVDs and home equipment to practice on your own.
- Martial Arts – Another effective way to release energy, frustration, and tension is to learn and practice a martial art. There are many types of martial arts to choose from: Krav Maga, karate, judo, tae kwon do, and more. In addition to keeping one active, martial arts have other benefits; they teach self-discipline, and the self-defense techniques learned can make a person feel safer.
- Kickboxing is a powerful means of reducing stress. It involves controlled punching and kicking movements carried out with discipline. One can get quite a rigorous workout in a kickboxing class, and that’s only one of its excellent benefits. Kickboxing regularly will help improve balance, flexibility, and coordination. It’s also a great way to work out frustration — having an outlet to release energy and anger can relieve stress.
There is also good evidence that physically fit people are more able to handle the long-term effects of stress, without developing ill health or burnout. Individuals who have not been physically active should talk with their doctor or another appropriate health professional before starting an exercise program. Health Power’s Fitness Tip Sheets and other items in its Food and Fitness Channel provides a wide variety of additional information on walking, exercise and fitness. See also Aerobic Exercise in our Glossary (you can find it on every page of the website). The Health Power Section on Overweight and Obesity also provides information on burning calories for weight control.
Remember the Health Power motto: Knowledge + Action = Power!