Work Out and Relieve Stress

stress relief workouts

Stress. We’ve all felt it. Sometimes it’s easy to overcome; sometimes it takes much more effort. In our fast-paced world, more and more people are feeling the effects of stress. In fact, reports say that more than three-quarters of US adults report stress-related symptoms.

Those symptoms may include:

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Restlessness
  • Chest pain
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Fatigue
  • Memory problems
  • Additional serious mental health problems

But did you know that regular exercise can help relieve stress and improve your overall health?

Harvard Health explains that “regular aerobic exercise will bring remarkable changes to your body, your metabolism, your heart, and your spirits. It has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress.”

Regular exercise reduces the level of stress hormones—such as adrenaline and cortisol—in our bodies. Exercise also promotes the production of endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood elevators.

Some even say that exercise is “meditation in motion,” as when you exercise, you focus singularly on your body’s movement. This results in similar benefits of meditation—an increase in energy, feelings of calmness, and an improvement in focus.

Exercise also helps increase our self-confidence, as the more we exercise, the better we look and feel.

This stress-reducing benefits of exercise is great knowledge to have! It serves as a motivator to put down the phone, turn off the TV, and get outside or head over to the gym for a good workout.

A beneficial workout

Heading into the gym and lifting weights or using a treadmill or elliptical is an obvious way to work out, but we know that not everyone has a gym membership or uses the membership they have. Plus, it takes time to drive to the gym and then work out.

All of this leads to one of the most common excuses for not exercising—a lack of time. But we owe it to ourselves and our health (and our families!) to make the time. Sometimes we may need to get creative, and that’s okay! Getting the heart pumping is crucial, and there are many ways to do that outside the gym.

Take a walk

Walking vigorously can be done anywhere. You can take a walk before or after work, on your lunch hour, or even during short breaks during the day. Taking time for yourself to clear your head, to get some fresh air, and to just focus on your health does wonders for your mental health. Try it! You can even ask a friend to join you. Then you get the added benefit of lighthearted time and laughter with someone, you can put aside the stressors of your day, and you enjoy the exercise and conversation.

Buy some workout equipment for your home

You don’t have to have a full-fledged gym in your basement or garage, but even some simple pieces of equipment will provide a good workout. Hang up a punching bag, get a treadmill or elliptical, or even buy a jump rope. Just 10-15 minutes using these tools will help boost your mood. Incorporate these into a day filled with an extra walk or jog, and you have the recipe for a great workout!

Participate in team sports

Team sports like pickleball, basketball, tennis, or softball offer both exercise and camaraderie. You not only get to work out and burn some calories, but you get to spend time with friends doing something you enjoy. Lots of community rec centers or YMCAs offer noncompetitive team sports opportunities. This is a great way to meet new friends as well.


Swimming is an excellent form of exercise, especially for those with back problems, as the water reduces the pressure on the spine. The water also relieves stress on the joints, so those with hip or knee problems or prior surgery will find that water exercise is more conducive to their needs.

Jog with your dog

The dog needs to be walked, but you both have a great opportunity to get your bodies moving. Instead of a leisurely walk around the block, find a dog park and jog together. Take a ball along and instead of playing catch, throw it, then race each other to it. This lighthearted game will be fun for both of you.

Try some or all of these ideas for adding exercise into your day. Do them faithfully for a month to see how you feel. Remember, working out doesn’t have to cause more stress, and it shouldn’t be something you dread. The objective is to make exercise a part of your day that you look forward to. You want to get to a point where you say, “I get to go for a jog later” instead of “I have to go for a jog later.”

Finding an activity you enjoy, then making it a part of your daily life, should be your goal, and you will soon find that you’re happier and better able to let go of the stress you feel.

Byline Susan
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