Whether it's work, the holidays, or simply navigating through modern life, life can get stressful. Stress is linked to a number of health problems, many of them fatal, and every doctor you see will tell you to try to avoid stress for your health. Good luck. The upside of stress is that you can channel it into great, heart-pumping work outs - something else the doctor ordered. Here are five great workouts that can turn melt your stress into body-building sweat.
- Running. They say not to run away from your problems, but this is one exception. Hop on that treadmill and see how far you can go before you stop stressing over your issues and start focusing on putting one foot in front of the other. If you're not a fan of the treadmill, take it outside to the open road, and let the combination of extreme cardio and nature soothe your troubled soul. The "runners high" is no joke, hyou'll truly feel stress free and blissful after a particularly long jaunt. If you have back or knee problems, you can get nearly the same benefits from a low-impact elliptical machine.
- Kicking, punching and jumping. There are a number of exercises that employ high-impact aerobics, from using a simple punching bag to getting invovled with a kickboxing or Krav Maga class. Channel all your stress and anger into punching harder, jumping higher, and kicking with force, and guaranteed you'll leave more relaxed, calm, and tired. You could always go low-tech and scream into a pillow, but employing high-imact exercises will leave you with a body that everyone whose stressing you out will envy.
- Lifting weights. Join a gym and give those goofy looking weight machines a try. The trick is to find the perfect weight that after 10-12 reps you can't do another one. Choose five or six machines that focus on different areas - arms, legs, back, and abs - and cycle through the machines two or three times. An hour later you'll wobble back out of the gym feeling noodley and less stressed. Combine this with some quick cardio - a five minute run before the circuit - and you'll forget your stress in the amazement of the number of calories you burned.
- Yoga. This particularly popular form of exercise is all about deep breathing and calm thoughts, and no matter what the instructor says if you've had a hellish week it might be difficult to focus on being zen while sitting on that yoga mat. If you find your mind racing, try to find a yoga class, DVD, or other instruction that focuses on strength and balancing moves. You will find that trying to achieve the perfectly balanced Tree or Eagle pose will clear your mind and make you sweat. You might want to give these exercises a try after getting the majority of your aggression out with cardio or aerobics training, but there is a reason yoga is so popular - the claim to calm works.
- Swimmimg. If human beings were meant to swim, we would all be born with gills. This makes swimming an amazing form of cardio, strength training, and coordination. Swim a few laps and just try to tell me that you didn't immediately have to start focusing on breathing at the right times and not drowning. Even better, swimming combines cardio and strenght to get you truly ripped. On top of that, the feeling of weightlessness you'll experience in the pool will add extra calm to your stress-reducing exercises.
Byline: Guest post Written by Jillian Gnorce also known for her work on educational websites like sonogram tech and Radiology Technician