Stressed out? A better mood may be just a workout away.
Does stress make you feel like screaming, running around, and jumping up and down?
Great news! We know a place where you can do all of those things (okay, maybe not the first one): the gym. Or any space that’s big enough to work out in, TBH.
Yes—exercising will help you destress. And destressing can lead to more productivity at work, improved relationships with your friends and fam, and just a better damn life, overall.
The elephant in the room: We know it can be hard to get the motivation to work out, especially when you’re in a bad mood.
So, we’re not just going to talk about which exercises are better for stress—we’re also going to discuss how to make yourself actually get off your ass and do them.
How to figure out which exercises are better for stress
So, which exercises are specially designed to combat stress? Well, this isn’t one of those clickbait articles you see at the bottom of a webpage promising peace and eternal happiness if you “just do this one crazy thing.” And you don’t have to pay a bunch of money to learn that secret, either.
It’s really pretty simple: the best exercise for stress is the one you actually want to do.
We’re going to talk about some exercises that are handy tools to have in your anxiety-fighting belt (yes, in this metaphor, you’re a superhero … or maybe a plumber?). But the TL;DR of this is that pretty much any exercise works, and you should always trust your instincts.
Hate running? Skip the treadmill. Think yoga is super-boring? Choose the more upbeat option.
Go with the type of exercise you know you’ll commit to on a regular basis, and it will always be a resource when stress strikes. Or an activity that stops the pressure from building in the first place.
Nevertheless, here are some suggestions for our favorite workouts that put stress down for the dirt nap.
Punch away the stress demons
Show stress who’s boss by taking up kickboxing. If anxiety causes you to feel a ton of nervous energy and maybe even a little anger, an intense kickboxing class (or video) will allow you to punch, kick, and repeat until you’re sweating and feeling better.
Every time you land a punch, imagine yourself knocking out that pressure — or, ahem, the cause of it — one hit at a time.
Fall in love with HIIT
HIIT sounds like hate when you say it out loud. But if you’re into high-energy workouts, you may actually fall in love with this one (or maybe it’ll be a love-hate thing). HIIT stands for “High-Intensity Interval Training.” Think CrossFit or Orangetheory, but those aren’t the only ways to get the benefits.
You can take an actual class or DIY your HIIT routine. Just do a high-intensity activity like sprinting, burpees, mountain climbers, or jumping jacks for a short burst of time and then move onto the next activity. In between a cycle of three, four, or five or so of these individual exercises, take a minute or two to rest. Then do it again.
Side note: HIIT is a pretty awesome workout for people who get bored easily. If the thought of a marathon sounds unbearable to you, you’ll like the short intervals of a HIIT workout. And best of all, these sessions can totally smoke you in only about 10 to 20 minutes.
Talk about efficient.
Pump some iron
Weightlifting is not just for those beefy dudes at the gym who take selfies and use the hashtag #gainz!
You can order a set of dumbbells online and watch YouTube videos that show you the basics of lifting weights. Strength-training reduces stress, and it’s great for people who live in small apartments and don’t have a ton of space for working out. Heck, a kettlebell can almost serve as a complete home gym.
You can still grunt like those dudes at the gym if you want; we won’t judge. But your roommate might.
Which exercises are better for stress? Dancing those blues away is at the top
Who knew your clubbing days were actually filled with great cardio?
Dancing is an excellent mood-boosting activity that will help reduce stress. And when it comes to which exercises are better for stress, there’s nothing better than the one that doesn’t even feel like exercise.
You can put on some tunes and dance around your room however you want, or try this super-fun dance workout for all levels.
Say om to more yoga
Yoga is all about flexibility, deep breaths, and honoring your mind-body connection. At the end of a long, stress-filled day, a class can truly nourish your soul as well as the bod.
Hot yoga, in particular, is especially good at releasing the toxins that cause you to feel keyed up, and some yoga poses are specifically created to affect your emotions.
Take a hike
Spending time in nature can reduce stress, so hit the trail this weekend or stroll around a nearby park on your lunch break. Getting sunshine and fresh air will put a smile on your face.
Now that you know which exercises are better for stress, here’s how to motivate yourself to do them
Besides focusing on activities that you enjoy, it helps to make exercise part of a daily schedule. It may seem silly to put a 30-minute walk around the block on the calendar, especially when you’re inundated with deadlines.
But mental and physical health is a completely legit thing to prioritize. Other top tips include getting a workout buddy or paying for classes, if you can swing it. Nothing motivates some people more than the thought of wasting those dollars.
P.S. CBD can also help with stress — and even with getting the clear head needed to hit the gym.
Whether it’s popping a couple of CBD gummies as you leave work or putting a few drops of oil under the tongue when you wake up, CBD can help you chill, focus, and get in the frame of mind to tackle that workout.
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