We all know that exercise is a great stress reducer, and many people use it on a daily basis to keep their moods in check and keep themselves physically healthy. Here are a few ways to reduce stress with exercise and give you even more bang for your workout buck:
Choose a peaceful workout setting. One way to up-level this great stress reducer is to do your exercise in a beautiful environment like at the beach (if you have one) or somewhere outdoors that you find inspirational. This will give you more emotional energy and also make you feel calmer by taking in the peace you find in your surroundings.
If you cannot go anywhere, or you choose to exercise in a gym, that’s fine, but you can make it more pleasant by just imagining that you are riding that bike through the Tour de France route, and many gyms have bikes with videos that can take you to many lovely places.
By calming your mind at the same time you are exercising your body, you are giving yourself a double dose of stress reduction and the results will not only be deeper, they will also last longer.
Meditate. Many people also meditate after exercising, and you can do that in a sauna, steam room or Jacuzzi so you again redouble the positive effects. Blending the process of mental imagery with exercise can make the overall effects more powerful as well.
Walk. Exercise does not have to be arduous, in fact it should have the opposite effect – but getting started can be a challenge. You may good intentions but without putting them into action, you won’t get where you want to go.
Just sit down and put on your sweats and sneakers. That’s actually a great first step. Then all you have to do is walk out your front door and start putting one foot in front of the other.
Pay attention. While you’re out there, take in the sights and notice things you haven’t before, which is also a good stress reducer since it takes your mind to more positive places. Hey, watching the world outside your own front door can be a lot better (and healthier) than anything on cable.
By including these ideas in your workout, you’ll find that before long you are in better shape mentally as well as physically – with no additional investment of time, money or energy required.
Marlena Hunter, M.A. is currently providing psychotherapy in Westlake, CA. She has a Master of Arts degree in Psychology, specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy and has gained several years experience in several clinical settings. You can check out her site here.