Working out to beat stress
We have all heard that expression "blowing off steam" when things get too stressful, but can your workout be adding to your stress levels?
The reality is that working out can be the best way to relieve stress. It will release endorphins, giving you that feel-good feeling, but the golden rule is that everybody is different. I love nothing more than mixing up a high-intensity workout with some heavy-compound straight sets, depending on time and energy levels, but for others a brisk walk or some stretching or yoga may be the key.
Our bodies are well-used to dealing with short amounts of stress by releasing cortisol and adrenaline. Using this adrenaline by working out will make you feel better, but tailoring that workout to how you feel will really help decrease stress levels.
Learn what your body is able for and work out accordingly. Working harder at more higher intensity is not necessarily smarter for your body.
Your results and your feel-good factor will all improve when you get the happy balance of workout and rest. A tired and stressed body may mean your technique slips, which is going to leave you more open to injuries. Mixing cardio and resistance training, and not over-working out, should keep stress levels at bay.
Remember, you do not need to be a gym member to get a good stress-busting workout. Try this high-intensity combination, completing 12 to 15 reps of each in circuit style, then taking a one-minute rest before repeating the circuit three more times.
1. DIVE BOMB PUSH UP
A. Support your body on your toes and hands with your arms straight and your hips raised high into the air.
B. Lower your head and chest down towards the floor between your hands, bending at your elbows.
C. Extend your head past your hands, then forward and up towards the ceiling
2. SIDE LUNGE
A. Stand upright holding a dumbbell in both hands, with your hands below your waist.
B. Step laterally to one side, lowering your body down and leaning your torso slightly forward with your weight on the outside leg. Keep your trailing leg straight.
Push off your outside foot to return to the start position. Repeat on one leg then alternate to the other leg for 12- 15 reps
A. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Place your hands to the sides of your head.
B. Lift your head and shoulders off the floor, keeping your feet flat. Do not pull your head up with your hands.
Lower your head and shoulders and repeat.
This article originally appeared in Fit Magazine, free with the Irish Independent every Thursday