You know stress is an issue for you, and your doctor may have even talked about getting a little more exercise. Exercise promotes the production of endorphins, our feel good chemicals, sometimes referred to as a “runner’s high.” Exercise also holds the power to reduce anxiety and put you in a better mood for the rest of your day!
The good news: you really don’t need anything fancy to reap the benefits of exercise.
Here are 7 tips and tricks for getting more active and lowering your stress! Of course, before making any changes in exercise routine, always check with your doctor. The current recommendation for adults is 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as brisk walking or swimming, per week or 75 minutes of more vigorous activity such as running, per week. We often make it harder for ourselves by thinking it’s got to be in one continuous period, but lots of varied movement throughout the day is beneficial as well!
- Don’t park in the closest spot! I often park my car just a bit farther away wherever that may be. Whether it’s school and I have things to carry in, or the shopping center, I park and add at least a few hundred extra steps each time.
- . If you sit a lot at work, set a timer (or if you have one of those fancy watches, even better because they tell you when to get off your butt and move!) Right outside my office door I have a little mini-station with a weighted medicine ball, very light dumbbells, and resistance bands. Each time I go to the restroom, I come back and do 10 squats with the medicine ball. When a colleague comes to chat with me, I ask if they’d like to throw the weighted medicine ball back and forth as we brainstorm.
- Find a friend or colleague who likes what you do! There is nothing more fun than going to a Zumba class or yoga with a friend. It’s a built in accountability partner and then you get the added stress reduction of connecting with someone who knows you and sees you! This year I’m planning on pitching a yoga time before school for all who want to join in.
- Mirror the little people. If you have little ones around the house, you know that they rarely stay in one place. Try to keep up with them! My grandkids love to “fly” on my legs, chase me around the house, and run down the street to the neighborhood park. If you don’t have any little people around, think about a friend who is always on the move.
- Start meetings with 10 minutes of intentional walk and talk time. Give everyone a topic to discuss and see how that leads into a more productive working meeting!
- Put on some music and dance! Nothing gets the feel-good hormones going than some good music and some silly moves.
- Bike to work! Several of my colleagues bike to work every day and they all report that it prepares them mindfully for their day. I live too far away from school for this option, or I would try it out!
- Seaward BL. Physical exercise: Flushing out the stress hormones. In: Essentials of Managing Stress. 3rd ed. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones & Bartlett Publishers; 2014.
- Sood A. Integrating joyful attention. In: The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living. Cambridge, Mass.: Da Capo Press/Lifelong Books; 2013.
- Hegberg NJ, et al. Physical activity and stress resilience: Considering those at-risk for developing mental health problems. Mental Health and Physical Activity. 2015;8:1.
- Silverman MN, et al. Biological mechanisms underlying the role of physical fitness in health and resilience. Interface Focus. 2014;4:1.
- 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.health.gov/PAGUIDELINES/guidelines/default.aspx. Accessed March 10, 2015.