More than anyone, I know how much exercise can be a struggle when you’re stressed and at your wits end. The last thing you want to do is get sweaty and gross, red faced and out of breath. To be uncomfortable at a gym or moving everything around the house to make enough room to even stretch. Unfortunately, exercise is a necessary part of life, it is healthy, and is one of the biggest forms of stress relief. Even if you find exercises for stress relief as stressful as I do!
Whether you’re here to find a list to try yourself, to find an exercise you hadn’t heard of and might not hate so much. Or want someone else to let you know which one sucks the least. You’ve come to the right place. So here is my master list of exercises for stress, each one I will be trying personally and posting about. So keep your eyes peeled for links to follow.
The Typical exercise suggested when looking to relieve stress. Starting at a walk, to a brisk walk, to a jog and eventually a run. Cardio gets your heart beating and pumping all the necessary components around your body to start feeling better. Just a 15 minute walk a day can make a difference.
Tai Chi & Qi Gong
An “internal” Chinese martial arts practice. Used for defense, for general health and for the benefits of meditation. Focusing on Yin and Yang within the body.
Qi Gong is a similar practice using “coordinated body movement,” breathing and meditation for an overall better health.
Focusing on breathing, silence or using the noise around you. Learning to focus on the positive, using mantras, mala beads, candles or other aids. Gets oxygen to the blood, calms the nerves and relaxes the body. See 36 ways to meditate for a similar list of meditation ideas.
Coordinated movements and breathing. Benefits blood pressure, flexibility, muscle strength and tone. Can reduce insomnia and stress. Highly recommended for stressed individuals.
Boxing is a “combat sport” focusing on punches/fists, combines fighting and cardio for tone and releasing agression in a healthy and safe way. Kickboxing is similar except includes the use of kicking/ whole body fighting styles. Boxing is more for the angry and stressed, focusing on fists, kick boxing uses the whole body, both can be used for self defense.
Similar to yoga but with a stronger focus on strength and balance over breath and stress relief, but equally as effective. Pilates consists of low impact movements that target muscular strength, endurance, postural alignment, core strength and balance.
Also known as a high intensity indoor cycling. An exercise focusing on endurance and strength through intervals of high intensity and recovery using a specialized weighted stationary bike.
HIIT / High Intensity Interval Training
Workouts that are normally not more than 30 minutes. Involving quick bursts of high energy exercise with quick rests in between to burn more calories and fat.
Using exercises often found in ballet and using a ballet bar – hence the name. Often group classes, and can be used in high intensity interval training (HIIT).
A combat sport that counts as exercise, using three disciplines; foil, epee, and sabre. Fencing moves similar to sword fighting against an opponent.
Can be done in a pool or in naturally occurring sources of water. Involves free swimming, swimming lengths, competition, resistance bands, weights. Can include other forms of exercises like water aerobics and aqua fit.
A form of dance and exercise, using high and low intensities. Can use equipment like weights and steps. Focusing on the core and toning the body.
So this one seems a little intimidating, but I’m still down to try it! CrossFit is a “strength and conditioning program consisting mainly of a mix of aerobic exercise, calisthenics (body weight exercises), and Olympic weightlifting.”
Can be done indoors at certain gyms or at rock climbing gym with supervision and help. Or for the more experienced rock climber can be attempted outdoors on actual rock faces. For me, indoors sounds like a good safe start!
Any exercises that use your body weight instead of equipment. Gives a little more freedom for practice areas, solo, in pairs or as a class. Exercises like sit ups, push ups, lunges, burpees, etc.
Any form of dance is an exercise. From ballet, hip hop, tap, ballroom, jazz, highland, swing, and many more including cultural and ceremonial dances!
Exercise Video Games
As a huge video game nerd I had to include things like Wii fit, Dance dance revolution (DDR), Xbox fitness, console exercise discs, etc. It may not be the typical, but it can get you up and moving!
Chinese martial arts used to develop a well balanced mind and body through fighting techniques and training.
(Tae Kwon Do) A form of martial arts focusing on head high kicks, jumping, spinning, using the force of your body and fast kicking techniques.
A more modernized martial arts focusing on combat and is in the Olympics. Focuses on courtesy, breaking balance, stability and keeping balance, and gentleness in fighting.
Focuses on using your opponents force against them rather than your own strength or force. Avoids confrontation and is for self defense. Used against armoured/armed opponents, free hand or with a short weapon.
A form of Thai boxing as a combat sport. Using a combination of fists, elbows, knees and shins.
A form of Japanese martial arts used to defend oneself while also protecting the attacker from injury.
An Afro-Brazilian martial arts that uses elements of dance, acrobatics and music. Known for its acrobatics and complex movements, often using hands on the ground and high inverted kicks.
Anything that gets you up and moving can be considered exercise. Starting with this list and adding as I go, I plan to try as much as I can, document as I go. Hopefully finding just the right “exercise” to help manage my stress, get moving, and learn something new to enjoy!
Remember to always start slow. Learn your limits, push yourself but know when to rest, and never be afraid to ask for help or an exercise partner.
Comment other forms of exercise you’ve wanted to try or know can help with stress below!
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