Exercise and Stress

The benefits of exercise- Improving physical condition and preventing illness have long been established, and physicians are forever encouraging us all to exercise regularly.  Exercise is also considered a vital part in maintaining good mental health too, it’s an effective way of reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration as well as improving overall cognitive function, and is especially helpful with reducing stress.

When stress affects the brain, the rest of the body feels the impact, and likewise, when your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activities release endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as a natural painkiller and helps you sleep, which in turn helps reduce stress furthermore.

Research also shows that physically active people have lower rates of depression and anxiety than those who are physically inactive. Studies even show that just a 10-minute walk is as good for the mind as doing a vigorous 45-minute workout. Check out the following exercise routines below which is both adult and child friendly so that the whole family can take part together, whether that’s in a park or a back garden, and best of all, no equipment is needed, so it’s all free:

Warm Up

  • March on the spot- Keep going for 3 minutes.
  • Heel Digs- Place alternate heels to the front, keeping the front foot pointing up, and the supporting leg slightly bent. Aim for 60 seconds, and continually alternate legs. 
  • Kneel Lifts- Stand slightly tall, and bring up alternate knees to touch the opposite hand. Aim for 60 seconds, continually alternating legs.
  • Shoulder Rolls- Stand tall on the spot, roll your shoulders forward 5 times, then roll them back 5 times.
  • Knee Bends- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, and your hands stretched out. Lower yourself no more than 10cm by bending your knees. Come up and repeat 10 times.

Circuit Routine

  • Shuttle Runs- Place markers between 10m, 20m and 30m apart, run backwards and forwards, and touch each marker when you get there. Aim between 30-60 seconds.
  • Star Jump- Stand tall with your arms by your side and knees slightly bent. Jump up, extending your arms and legs out into a star shape in the air. Land softly, with your knees together and hands by your side.
  • Bridge- Lie face up on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms at your side with your palms down. Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Squeeze those glutes hard and keep your abs drawn in so you don’t overextend your back during the exercise. Hold your bridged position for a couple of seconds before easing back down. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
  • Wall Sit- Make sure your back is flat against the wall, set your feet about shoulder width apart and 2ft out from the wall. Slide your back down the wall, bending your legs until they are at a 90-degree angle. Hold between 30 to 60 seconds and repeat 3 times.

Once you have completed the circuit and had a rest, you can repeat again. Always remember to drink plenty of water, especially when exercising to stay hydrated.

Cool Down

  • Quad Stretch- Lie on your front and bend your right leg up to your buttock. grasp your ankle with your hand and apply a bit of pressure in order to get a full stretch. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
  • Side Bench Stretch- Raise your right arm overhead and bend your upper body to the left in a reaching motion. Keep your upper body facing straight ahead—don’t twist it to the side as you bend. Make to sure you feel the muscles gently stretch all along your side from your lower back up to your shoulder. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, and repeat on the opposite side.
  • Arm Cross Shoulder Stretch- Start standing or sitting tall. Grab one arm above your elbow with your opposite hand, and pull it across your body toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your shoulder. Make sure to keep your elbow below shoulder height. Hold for at least 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

Please ensure to speak to a doctor prior to doing this routine if you have any health problems. We would love to hear what you think helps relieve stress for you and your family, and whether you find exercise helps you too.