Our bodies have this incredible stress response system that turns on and gears up when we need it and can boost alertness and performance. That’s great when you’re trying to get away from a predator, but when it’s triggered by modern society stressors, like the news? Not so awesome. But exercising regularly can help release natural endorphins that may help ease stress.
Aerobic exercise may be the fastest way to get stress-busting benefits because it gets your heart rate up and that releases endorphins in the brain. Sports psychologist Chelsi Day explains these feel-good chemicals make you more resilient and that helps you cope with stressful situations in a healthy way.
Some of the best exercises to curb stress and anxiety include:
- Brisk walking – Sure, it’s simple but according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, a 10-minute walk can be enough to restore calm and may be as helpful as a 45-minute jog for relieving stress.
- Jogging or running – If your joints are up to it, you can pick up the pace to release anxiety.
- Swimming – It’s a full-body workout that’s good for the cardiovascular system and being in water can be very soothing to some people.
- Cycling – It’s easy on the joints and gives you a heart-pumping workout.
- Dancing – Busting a move to banging music can ease stress and it can be a social activity, which can help you feel connected and less anxious.
- Boxing – Ever been so mad you wanted to hit something? Boxing is a wonderful way to burn off stress and anger while giving you a solid sweat sesh.
- HIIT workouts – High-intensity interval training gets your heart pumping by mixing aerobic, anaerobic, and strength elements and it can help you shake off stress.
So which exercise is the best for easing stress? Day says it’s the one you’ll stick to regularly and enjoy most because that will keep you coming back.