How to Manage Stress with Exercise Therapy

Many of us have made various resolutions for the new year. The most common New Year’s resolution that people make is to start exercising and be more physically active. Keeping that resolution may be stressful. Exercising is a holistic and all-around great activity that you should incorporate into your daily routine. While there are numerous physical benefits of exercising, research shows that exercising is immensely beneficial for mental health as well.

Currently, stress is a crucial and rampant problem that needs to be addressed and learning how to manage stress is more important than ever. It is a great and positive development that mental health awareness is increasing more and more. People are addressing the issue of mental health and want to improve their mental wellness more than ever. This is where exercise therapy comes in as an effective way to manage stress.

Here are some simple yet effective steps you can take to learn how manage stress with exercise therapy:

Choose an Enjoyable Physical Activity to Manage Stress

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said “A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a Single Step.”  Did you resolve to “get fit”?  Start small.  Five minutes, three times per day.  Walk to the end of your street and back (maybe to the end of your driveway). Each week, add three minutes or 50 steps to your routine.

Do you enjoy cycling, swimming, sprinting or maybe just brisk walking? Try to find a physical activity which you enjoy. Doing this will increase the likelihood of you regularly doing that activity and make it easy to follow a routine.

Start Slowly

Take it easy if you’re new to exercise or haven’t been physically active lately. Start slowly to avoid any injuries and fatigue. You can increase the intensity of your workouts as your stamina improves and you get used to exercising. If you don’t enjoy moving, it is probably because of a reason you are unaware of. Exercise Therapy works with you to discover what it is. It may be:

  • An old injury that was never properly rehabbed
  • Weak feet or ankles that don’t properly support you
  • Weak eye muscles lead to slow reaction times, which affect your sense of safety when moving
  • Pain has become a “habit” which, like every habit, can be broken with new routines

Add Fun Little Exercises to Your Routine

Use Exercise Balls at Work

Sit on a yoga ball while working or watching TV.  Maintaining your balance on the ball forces you to activate core muscles.  An added bonus is that you can bounce as you sit, which is actually fun and burns calories.

Brain Exercises are Fun

Wake up your brain by moving opposite sides of your body at the same time. Stretch and squeeze the fingers of your right hand and the toes of your left foot simultaneously (it helps if you can take off your shoes). Imagine you can draw a circle with your right foot and left hand at the same time. Whenever you move opposing joints of your body – right arm left leg for example – both sides of your brain are activated, increasing alertness and overall coordination.  By the way, at first, the challenge may just make you laugh.

Combine Exercise with Nature to Reduce Stress

Try to exercise outdoors. Being in nature has been linked to additional stress reduction and mood improvement. There are numerous outdoor activities, even in winter, like skating, skiing, or even putting spikes on your boots and going for a walk. Or you can play sports, go sprinting or cycling. You can also do yoga or other relaxation techniques, which are great to do outside (or inside if it’s a bit too chilly!). Doing these outdoors greatly enhances their effect while helping you considerably lower your stress levels.

It increases your cardiovascular fitness in addition to accentuating your mindfulness. Whether it’s a walk in the park or a hike in the mountains, connecting with nature increases the overall therapeutic effect.

Don’t Forget Your Eyes

woman sitting at a desk with laptop who looks stressed rubbing her temples

Would you believe that moving your eyes up into a wide gaze reduces stress? You have muscles around your eyes which can be stretched and strengthened. Without moving your head, look up with your eyes at the ceiling and hold your focus for five seconds. Relax. Again, without moving your head, look as far to the right as possible. It may help to focus on a picture or other object off to the side. Again, hold for five seconds. Repeat to the left.  You may feel some strain in your forehead; that is muscle activation! You will likely feel calmer as your eyes widen their vision field. As an added benefit, eye exercises can help prevent digital dementia (if you feel dizzy, please contact me).

Include Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques are a great way to calm yourself down and get in a tranquil state of mind. Supplement your exercise regimen with relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation. This can further enhance the stress-reducing effects and contribute to an overall sense of well-being. You will see a considerable improvement in your mental state after adding relaxation techniques to your daily routine.

Manage Your Stress with Exercise Therapy

Whether or not you keep that New Year’s resolution of working out every day, you can easily implement these easy exercise therapy tips and reduce stress levels more effectively in order to be happier and healthier than ever!

Learn how to manage stress with exercise therapy with us! We offer exercise therapy courses every Thursday evening in Vaughan, or you can book private exercise therapy sessions with us and explore the many benefits. We look forward to seeing you!

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Anne Klausner

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