The summer sun brings longer days, but sadly, no more hours to help complete life’s routine responsibilities. Between work, family, and general daily duties, your schedule can get a little hectic. That said, a busy life is just one more reason to make sure you get some exercise–not an excuse to skip it. It has been proven time and time again to be the No. 1 stress reliever. Endorphins are released when you engage in physical activity and these can help you to better cope with stress.
Here are 6 exercises specifically designed to target stress and make your life a bit more manageable.
1. Butterfly Breath
The Butterfly Breath is a yoga breathing exercise that will help slow your heart rate and clear your head. Here’s how to do it: Stand up straight, feet shoulder-width apart, and hold both arms out to the side. Breathe in as you lift your left knee towards your right elbow and exhale as you bring your leg down. Do the same with your right knee and your left elbow and repeat.
At the end of one of those days, more aggressive exercises, like boxing or kickboxing, can help you conquer frustrations in a healthy, productive manner. Kickboxing has been shown to be a good match for those with type A personalities.
3. The Shake
Qigong, a practice with Chinese roots similar to Tai Chi, has a shaking technique to loosen up your joints and get your blood flowing. Start by shaking your hands and progress to anything in your upper body that needs a good jolt. Afterwards, rock back and forth, heel to toe, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Another way to lower your heart rate in addition to breathing exercises is a regular cardio routine. Do any low impact exercise that gets your heart pumping, like brisk walking or jogging, for about 20 minutes a day, 3 times a week. Cardio can encourage the body to release endorphins, which also act as sleep aids. Having a regular sleeping schedule can also reduce anxiety.
5. Cross Body Stretch
Stretching is a great way to relieve pent up tension no matter where it is. For example, if it’s in your lower back, the cross body stretch helps your spine decompress. Here’s how to do it: Sit up with your legs in front of you. Pick up your left leg and place it over the right with your foot up by your knee. Then turn your body to the right; you should feel the stretch in your lower back. Mirror this with your other side.
6. Cloudy Hands
Tai Chi has health benefits both mental and physical. One basic move that’s great for stress is called Cloudy Hands. Here’s how to do it: Start by stretching your right hand in front of your body while keeping your left hand by your side, with both palms facing away. Then bring your left arm up replacing where the right arm was. Continue this circular hand motion while swaying back and forth.
Jennifer Cohen is a leading fitness authority, TV personality, best-selling author, and entrepreneur. With her signature, straight-talking approach to wellness, Jennifer was the featured trainer on The CW’s Shedding for the Wedding, mentoring the contestants’ to lose hundreds of pounds before their big day, and she appears regularly on NBC’s Today Show, Extra, The Doctors and Good Morning America. Connect with Jennifer on Facebook, Twitter, G+ and on Pinterest.