We’re all aware that exercising regularly has a number of useful benefits for our body, including improving muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness, reducing the risk of serious health problems, and also helping us to manage our weight. But, did you know that it can also help reduce stress? In 2013, a major study by Bupa revealed that a shocking 44% of us suffer from stress. It can arise from a whole bunch of reasons, such as family problems, working life, money issues and health worries. Stress can happen to anyone, however, we’re here to discuss the facts to try and make your life a little worry free.

How can exercise combat stress?

It increases your endorphins. Exercising helps the body produce more of the chemicals called endorphins. It is these chemicals that create a positive feeling in your body. Athletes often talk about feeling ‘euphoric’ after a workout which is otherwise known as a ‘runner’s high’.

It can act as a form of meditation. You will find that engaging yourself in a challenging run or a fast-paced tennis match will enable you to temporary forget about the other things happening in your life.

Your mood will improve. Exercising will help your self-confidence and can lower the symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. It can also improve your sleep quality as it is often disrupted because of stress related problems.

What exercises can I do to relieve stress?

High-energy activities. If you’re part of a gym then they will often organise weekly sessions such as spin or body combat which is designed to accelerate your heart rate so your body releases more endorphins.

Yoga. It has been proven that yoga is a great form of stress relief and even though it won’t get your heart racing, it will definitely help your feel more relaxed and happy. There will often be local classes at leisure centres which are available for all levels of ability.

Team sports. One of the best ways to exercise and feel good about yourself is to play any form of team sports, whether that is football, netball or rounders. You can even get the whole family involved to gain maximum satisfaction and release those hormones.

Outdoor activities. Why not try some outdoor activities such as biking, long-distance running, or even dog walking. This will especially be effective if it’s sunny and beautiful setting and environment will no doubt improve your mood.

Have you found that our exercises have helped relieve stress in your day-to-day lives? Or maybe you have found other ways to relax in your spare time? Feel free to comment below and engage with other Butterfly members about your experiences regarding health issues.