Ask anyone who exercises regularly and aside from the weight and health benefits, they’ll likely say that exercise simply makes them “feel better.” Many experts, including the American Council on Exercise, agree that mood regulating chemicals in our brain are stimulated during exercise so we feel better – and consequently less stressed – after exercise.

YMCA certified trainers and group fitness instructors offer these recommendations on some of the best stress-busting exercises:

REDUCING ANXIETY

Clinicians have found that electrical activity in tensed muscles will lessen following an intense exercise session, reducing nervous tension.

Best exercises: Heart-pumping weight training or Group Power class.

RELAXING THE BODY

When we exercise, our brains release endorphins and other “happy hormones” that leave us feeling relaxed and satisfied. This relaxation response can last 90 to 120 minutes – a similar experience we get from a massage!

Best exercises: A brisk treadmill walk or Group Centergy.

GAINING CONFIDENCE

Regular exercise helps the body lose weight and gain muscle to boast a healthy glow and smile, and give off an aura of confidence.

Best exercises: TRX exercises, Group Core or exercising with a personal trainer.

RELEASING NEGATIVITY

Life’s annoyances can build up leading to stress and even low-grade anger. High-energy exercise opens the pressure valve on those negative emotions to let off steam for increased health and well-being.

Best exercises: Kick-boxing class, Boot Camp or interval training on the Elliptical machine.

If you are stressed, take the most important step to understand what is causing your stress. Not all stress can be exercised away, and should not be ignored. Stop in at the YMCA for a free SMART START appointment to start stress-busting with exercise.