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How to bust stress with exercise

Last updated on: January 5, 2013 15:53 IST

How to bust stress with exercise

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Brinda Sapat

Fitness expert Brinda Sapat gives you some advice that will have you feeling fresh and energetic instead of stressed out and anxious.

You've heard it before and it's a fact -- exercise does help to cut down stress. And no matter what type of stress you suffer from, working it off will always leave you feeling much better.

Here's why. Cardiovascular exercise releases a feel-good hormone, also called the athlete's high, while stretching and yoga calm the nerves and help you relax .

So the ideal workout to follow on a daily basis is a cardiovascular exercise followed by some simple stretching and relaxation.
Exercising regularly is key to keeping stress levels down. Don't wait for the day when you can't take the pressure anymore. When you spend 30-60 minutes on exercise everyday, you are in a better state of mind to deal with the demands.

So what do you do on a day when the stress level shoots up to an unbearable point?

Don't head off straight to a kickboxing class. Calm yourself first:

  • A few deep breaths. As cliched as it may sound, it will relax you and let off some steam.
  • Combine it with visual imagery. Think of any place that makes you feel relaxed (not stimulated) like the beach, mountains, river etc.
  • Have a cup of soothing tea.
  • A quick neck and shoulder rub from a friend or colleague also does wonders.

It is important to get your pressure and heart rate levels down before you get to cardio. Once you feel a little under control, get moving!

Brinda Sapat is Group Exercise Instructor at Gold's Gym, Napean Sea Road, Mumbai. Certified with Training Zone & Progressive Fitness (USA), she has been a fitness instructor for over a decade.


Image: Cardiovascular exercise like jogging releases a feel-good hormone, also called the athlete's high
Photographs: Mike Baird from Morro Bay, USA/bairdphotos.com/Wikimedia Commons

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The idea is to get totally involved in the exercise, both mentally and physically

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Pick a cardiovascular exercise you enjoy, like walking, running, cycling, swimming, aerobics, step aerobics or kickboxing.

Work out at moderate to high intensity for 30-60 minutes. The idea is to get totally involved in the exercise, both mentally and physically. This will release adrenalin and give you that good feeling by the end of the workout.

Round off your session with some relaxing stretches and deep breathing. You will leave feeling much more relaxed and happy. This is why a morning workout does wonders in coping with the stress of the day, while an evening one will help clear out the build up of the day.

A workout like power yoga is also a super stress buster. It is not cardiovascular exercise, but focuses on strength and endurance, as well as coordination and balance. It forces you to concentrate on the execution and breathing. The end result is definite rejuvenation.

Post workout, hydrate yourself with enough water and eat low-fat comfort foods.


Image: A workout like power yoga is also a super stress buster
Photographs: lulemon athletica on Flickr, Wikimedia Commons
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