8 Effective Excercises To Reduce Stress

8 min read
Mar 31, 2024
8 Effective Excercises To Reduce Stress
One of the best ways to manage stress is to exercise, which can help enhance other areas of your health.
Over time, persistent stress can raise your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, among other chronic illnesses.
On the other hand, regular exercise can help lower stress levels, enhance overall health, and lower the risk of developing chronic illnesses.
Studies show that even 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise can reduce stress.

How does exercise help reduce stress?

Engaging in physical activity enhances your body's capacity to utilize oxygen and increases blood circulation. The two alterations directly impact your brain.
Harvard Health reports that exercise also raises endorphin production in the brain and lowers levels of the stress chemicals cortisol and adrenaline.
Endorphins are the feel-good neurotransmitters responsible for the "runner's high" phenomena. This is the feeling of bliss and well-being that many people get from working out.
How does exercise help reduce stress?
How does exercise help reduce stress?
Engaging in physical activities can also aid in reducing stress. Taking a break from a demanding situation to work out might be quite beneficial.
Exercise also helps you focus on your body instead of your thoughts because it involves repetitive activities.
By concentrating on the rhythm of your movements, you can experience many of the same benefits of meditation while working out. Calm and clarity are triggered when one is concentrated on a single bodily job.
Some folks report feeling happier right away after working out. Those emotions usually intensify with time.
As you stick to a regular exercise schedule over a few days, weeks, and months, you should experience an improvement in feelings of wellbeing.

Other benefits of exercise

Frequent exercise not only directly lowers stress levels but also has additional positive effects that support optimal health.
Exercise has various other advantages as well.
  • bolster your bones and muscles.
  • bolster your immunity to help lower your risk of infection and sickness.
  • decrease blood pressure, occasionally to the same extent as certain antihypertensive drugs.
  • raise your blood's HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
  • enhance the flow of blood in your body.
  • enhance your capacity to regulate your weight.
  • aid in your improved nocturnal slumber.
  • increase your vitality.
  • enhance your perception of yourself.

What types of exercise help reduce stress?

Being an exceptional athlete or marathon runner is not necessary to benefit from exercise's ability to reduce stress.
What types of exercise help reduce stress?
What types of exercise help reduce stress?
Think about swimming, going for a fast stroll around the block, or working out with your smartphone for ten minutes in your living room. Any kind of exercise will be beneficial.
Consider moderate aerobic workouts like these, for instance:
  1. biking
  2. brisk walking
  3. jogging
  4. swimming
  5. water aerobics
  6. playing tennis or racquetball
  7. dancing
  8. rowing
If you're looking for exercises that can improve your muscles, try weightlifting or resistance band exercises.
You can feel lifted emotionally even if you choose to climb the stairs instead of the elevator or engage in intense gardening.
Make sure the activity is something you truly enjoy doing. Don't make swimming your primary activity if you're uncomfortable in the water. Training for a 5K race won't help you decompress if the idea of running gives you anxiety or discomfort.
Explore a range of pursuits until you discover ones that you love. Your likelihood of sticking with your exercise regimen will increase when you're enjoying yourself.
The benefits of exercise in reducing stress can also be increased by working out with a partner. It can feel less like work and more like joy when done with friends or family.

How much exercise is enough to reduce stress?

Every week, at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity are advised by the American Heart Association (AHA). It advises working out for thirty minutes on at least five days a week.
According to other study, doing vigorous-intensity exercise for 75 minutes a week is a good substitute.
If you are pressed for time and are unable to complete a 30-minute workout, consider doing three 10-minute workouts during the day. This is nearly as effective as working for 30 minutes straight.
Additionally, the American Heart Association recommends including at least two sessions of muscle-strengthening exercises in your weekly regimen.
Make an effort to provide a thorough workout for all of your major muscle groups, including your arms, shoulders, chest, back, belly, legs, and other core muscles.
Take your time and increase your physical activity level gradually if you're just starting an exercise regimen.
For instance, your doctor may advise you to start off slowly with 20 minutes of aerobic activity three days a week and work your way up from there.

Exercise tips for reducing stress

This is how to start exercising consistently to reduce stress.

How to start

Start with simple, enjoyable workout routines that you enjoy. According to the National Center for Health Research, starting an extremely ambitious exercise regimen right away could result in burnout and cause you to stop working out completely.
Schedule your workouts and make time for yourself. Establishing a schedule will help you get rid of the tension of always feeling like you should be doing something else. You have allotted this time to yourself.
Ask your family or friends to join you for a workout. You'll be able to keep each other inspired by it. For instance, you and a friend could sign up for an exercise class.
For many, walking is a fantastic place to start. You can progressively increase the intensity of your exercise if that's what you want to do.
To help you started, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided several sample workout regimens.

SMART goals

Set attainable, gratifying goals that you can monitor and celebrate.
The American Council on workout states that SMART goal setting is an excellent strategy to maintain consistency in your workout regimen. SMART is an acronym for:
  • Specific: Give it the clearest definition you can. "Get healthy" or "lose weight" are examples of excessively general goals.
  • Measurable: Put numbers to it possible.
  • Attainable: You can't aim for something you can't realistically achieve.
  • Relevant: Make sure it's what you desire for yourself, not what you should do in the opinion of others.
  • Time-bound: Set yourself a deadline.
This is an illustration of a SMART goal: "In two months, I will shed seven pounds (3.1 kg)."
After you have a broad SMART goal such as the one above, make a few weekly action-oriented SMART goals. For the aforementioned example goal, they could be:
  • I'm going to walk for five miles per week, or 3.2 kilometers.
  • Before I go to work every day, I'm going to perform ten push-ups.
  • Every Saturday morning, I will use a smartphone app to complete one yoga class.

How to stay motivated

It's common to experience periods of inmotivation. The secret is to think in ways that will enable you to break free from the rut and continue.
The CDC suggests the following self-talk to help you overcome common excuses you may find yourself making:
  • I don’t have enough time: After a week of careful observation, you should be able to find at least three 30-minute windows in your calendar for physical activity.
  • My to-do list is already too long: Set aside time each week for yourself to exercise. Mark that time in your calendar, then be sure to show up.
  • I’m too tired: Plan your activity during the times of week when you are most likely to feel energized.
  • I have little kids: Plan to trade babysitting duties with friends or acquaintances who are also parents. Once your children are older, think about taking the family for a family bike trip, hike, or stroll.

When to talk with your doctor

Asking your doctor about the best kinds and amounts of exercise is a smart idea, particularly if you have a chronic illness like high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, or heart disease.
It's crucial to identify the causes of stress and take appropriate action against them. To address the underlying cause of your stress, you may wish to consult a psychologist or other medical expert in addition to engaging in physical activity and other stress-reduction strategies.
See your doctor for advice on the best types of exercise for you if you're not in good shape or have never worked out before.
They can assist you in creating an exercise program that is both safe and efficient while taking into consideration your individual fitness level and condition. Talk to your doctor about the right amount of intensity.
Even if you don't think of yourself as sporty or feel out of shape, you can still benefit from exercise's ability to reduce stress.
Frequent exercise can make you feel happier, more at ease, and less worried, anxious, and sad.


PondStories is based on peer-reviewed research, academic research institutions, and medical societies and follows stringent sourcing criteria. We do not make use of tertiary sources.

FAQ about Exercise and Reducing Stress

How does exercise help reduce stress?

Exercise helps reduce stress in several ways:
  • Boosts endorphins: Exercise increases the production of endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood elevators in the brain. This can lead to feelings of euphoria and well-being, often referred to as the "runner's high."
  • Reduces stress hormones: Exercise lowers levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can contribute to feelings of anxiety and tension.
  • Provides a distraction: Exercise can take your mind off your worries and focus on your body and its movements.
  • Improves sleep: Regular exercise can improve the quality of your sleep, which in turn helps you feel more rested and better equipped to handle stress.

What types of exercise help reduce stress?

Any type of exercise can be beneficial for stress reduction. Here are some examples:
  • Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise: Biking, brisk walking, jogging, swimming, water aerobics, dancing, rowing.
  • Strength training: Weightlifting, resistance band exercises.
  • Activities you enjoy: Even taking the stairs instead of the elevator or gardening can be stress-relieving.

How much exercise is needed to reduce stress?

The American Heart Association recommends engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week.
Even shorter bursts of exercise can be beneficial. Strive to incorporate at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week.

How can I begin exercising to reduce stress?

Here are some tips to get started:
  • Start small and gradually increase intensity and duration.
  • Choose activities you enjoy.
  • Set SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
  • Schedule your workouts and make time for yourself.
  • Find a workout buddy for motivation.

When to talk to a doctor about exercise?

  • If you have a chronic health condition.
  • If you've never worked out before and don't know where to start.
  • If you're worried about your level of fitness.

Can anyone benefit from exercise for stress reduction?

Yes! Even if you're not athletic or feel out of shape, you can still experience the stress-reducing benefits of exercise. Regular physical activity can lead to feelings of happiness, reduced anxiety, and improved mood.