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Bust Stress with Exercise

When anxiety runs high or your to-do list is a mile long, you might not feel like making time for exercise. But physical activity is the ultimate de-stressor. “Moving your body releases pent-up tension and stimulates feel-good chemicals in the brain that can reduce anxiety,” says Martica Heaner, Ph.D., nutritionist and exercise physiologist, and author of Cross-Training for Dummies. Do something you love, not something boring or frustrating or super-unfamiliar. “How you perceive your exercise routine really has an impact on stress reduction,” says Tiffany Cruikshank, a yoga teacher and wellness expert at Nike World Headquarters near Portland, Ore. “Finding something you enjoy is more important than the exact activity.” Cruikshank also advises starting out slowly. In fact, she suggests beginning with a simple breathing exercise: Inhale to a count of six, pause, then exhale to a count of six. Increase your activity gradually so your muscles don’t tense up. If, for example, you enjoy yoga, practice at least once or twice a week to combat stress and regulate cortisol, a stress hormone that can affect metabolism, energy levels and concentration. “If you can get the nervous system to stay calm by paying attention to the breath, you will start your day on the right foot and set a good precedent for a less stressful day ahead,” says Cruikshank.

(Photo: Robert Benson/Aurora/Getty Images)
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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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